It makes perfect sense if we think about it in one way, and then it is ridiculous if looked at differently. I’m talking about the fact that several sections of the inspired Word of God were written to individuals. It is easy to understand why the Holy Spirit spoke to churches. We can see why He gave circular letters to be shared with churches of a specific region. But that He inspired and preserved epistles to individuals is remarkable. But then on the other hand, the omnipotent, omniscient God knows that many times we as individuals have our own particular needs. And what is true in one person, like Timothy, might be true of me – or you.

II Timothy is one of those God-given epistles, which was directed to a specific person, but which was meant to be shared with Christian individuals throughout the ages and around the world. It is a letter of encouragement. “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” This is an epistle of encouragement to Paul’s friend and student, Timothy. But Paul told him to pass this encouragement on to others – “The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” In the mind of God and the process of time, these words of encouragement have been saved and passed on to you and me.

There is not a week that goes by in which you and I don’t stumble, hurt our spiritual knees or get a little down. In fact we may hurt our spiritual knees and don’t want to get down at the feet of the Saviour. “Thou THEREFORE, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

In the light of this, Paul reminds us about the kind of Christian the Lord would like us to be. To some degree, we’re all like little children, trying to see what dad has on the top of his tall boy dresser. Sometimes he lifts us up to give us a peek, and sometimes he takes one of the treasurers off the top to let us hold it for a while. Sometimes he just tells us that when we grow up, we’ll have access to all those glorious, mysterious items. In II Timothy 1:7 we are told of four treasures, four Christian blessings, which we should enjoy, but which very often, like Timothy, we don’t. These are not things which produce Christians – they are characteristics of God’s better Christians. They are characteristics of people whom the Lord is blessing – and, oh, how WE need those blessings.

For example, Christ can take away our FEARS.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Some psychology books describe people according to various temperaments. Those books have fancy names for the basic sort of people they think we are. You may be an extravert or an introvert. Are you sanguine? Choleric? Phlegmatic? They say that the sanguine man is happy-go-lucky – not always quite serious enough. The choleric person is hot tempered; quick but practical. A melancholy soul is sensitive, emotional, timid, and perhaps loving and kind, but also prone to sadness The phlegmatic person is cool, calm, easy-going, but sometimes difficult to understand, because he tends to hide what is really going on inside his heart. Some psychologists try to convince people that we are strictly one or the other of these kinds of people. But probably not one of these descriptions is completely accurate of anyone, while perhaps most of us do lean towards one or the other. There are good things and bad things contained in each of these terms. But my point is: the Spirit of Christ has the power to modify, correct and improve the temperament of anyone.

Timothy was a God-called servant, as was Joshua a few centuries earlier. The natural temperament of both of those young men appears to have been somewhat fearful. So Joshua – “Be strong and of a good courage… “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law.” “Be strong and of a good courage, be not afraid neither be thou dismayed for the Lord th God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” And Timothy, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power” – so why are you so timid?

“Why am I such a fearful person?” “Well it is just a part of my temperament.” I don’t think that God wants to hear that. Temperament may be given as an excuse for something – an excuse for any number of things. It may be an excuse for our lack of spirituality, or our laziness, or our self-centered stubbornness. But certainly our fear and timidity didn’t come from the Lord. “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” In comparison to what other saints are suffering in other places in the world, why am I so timid? Psalm 118:6 – “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” Hebrews 13:6 – “We may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Someone has said that the true saint should be like a kite – the more contrary the wind, the higher we fly. But that is very often not what happens when the contrary winds blow.

Christ can take away our fears, and to fill the gap He can make us STRONG.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” How naturally strong are you? I am not talking about physical strength, because in the light of eternity that isn’t really important. Rather, how strong willed are you, and how is that strength expressed? Generally, when we hear someone described as strong-willed, we think of something negative. But while that is often true, it is not necessarily true. Are you capable of saying “no” to that high-pressure salesman? How resistant are to you advertising? Do you really need that latest technology? Or, ow apt are your children and grand-children to get their whims filled when they come to you?

To be weak – 75% of the time – is to be wicked. What is the cause of drunkenness? Some say that it is a disease, but it’s actually weakness. Why are so many in such great debt? Some because of disaster, but more because of debility. Why are so many killing themselves with tobacco and drugs? Weakness. And there are spiritual aspects to this weakness as well. Why is it that 95% of professing Christians can’t ask God’s blessings on their food in the restaurant? What size headache does it take to keep that Christian from church, but the next day, when the pain is worse, there they are at their secular post. Are we able to stay focused through a thirty-minute sermon? Or is our heart a bowl full of jelly?

God’s salvation gives us access to unlimited strength; Christians are allied to omnipotence. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Paul encourages us in Ephesians 3:16 to pray “that (God) would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.”

Another area where all of us could use some God-given assistance is in the area of LOVE.

Remember “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” From the beginning of time, one of man’s greatest desires has been – power. I look at people at the gym – obviously some of them want to be stronger or faster than everyone else. It used to be that people became politicians or policemen in order to help people. Today more often than not, it is more about the power that they might have over people. And for many, once they have a bit of power, it intoxicates them, corrupts and destroys them. Look at the little girl in the playground as she develops her talents as a bully.

Perhaps for this reason God ties power to love. I Corinthians 16:13 – “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like, be strong” – be manly, be muscular. But then there is the next verse – “Let all your things be done with love – (agape).” When it is refined and wielded well, love is a powerful tool. It can wipe away all tears, destroy wicked hearts, melt mountains, and build fires in people’s minds. It is one of the tools of God. For many it is how He caught our attention when we were such rebels. “God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Because He loves us we are to love Him in return. “We love Him because He first loveth us.” And because He loves us we are to love others.

We might debate the answer, but what is the highest characteristic of the Biblical saint? Is it doctrine? Is it evangelism? Is it consistency before the law? Worship? Prayerfulness? Where are those things in the context of II Timothy 1:7? John 13:35 – “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” I John 3:14 – “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” God wants – and the world needs – Christians who are incapable of containing their love. Without a doubt there should be a flood of thankful love towards the Lord. But then we should be able to display our love for one another as Christians. And the world needs to know that we love them, in spite of their wickedness – because we were once loved in our wickedness. Love as you have been loved, give as one to whom much has been given; help as you have been helped and saved.

And then, Christ Jesus makes the GOVERNMENT of our HEARTS and MINDS possible.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” We live in a society where we are constantly being told HOW to think and WHAT to think. And I admit that this is a part of the Christian ministry. But, for us, it is not a dictatorial thing – it should not be without reason and reasoning. God, by his grace and power, gives us the ability to resist the wicked thought – the unbelieving thought – the negative thought.

The things of the world are in constant ebb and flow like the tide, and each time the tide comes in, it brings some more of the garbage that is out there. But Christ Jesus is described as the foundation – the substance upon which we can build our hopes and our lives. “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” And “ of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom (as well as) righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

Christ is the means of moderating, ameliorating and amending the natural temperaments with which were either born or raised. Christ wants us to honor and serve HIM – not ourselves, our families or our proclivities and tendencies. Christ wants Timothy and Joshua to grow up – in order to be the leaders this world and God’s churches need. “God hath not give us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”