Rising above Fear and Cowardice

“Most of us live two lives. The life we live, and the un-lived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” ~ Steven Pressfield

fear

If your anything like me you are fascinated by Victory and Success. I look at people who seem to walk in a perpetual state of success and I think how do they do that? I read and listen to some of the most successful “Life Coaches” or motivators such as  Stephen Covey, to Anthony Robbins to Tim Ferriss to Mark Devine, the list goes on and on…and I think wow! What insight. What do I lack, what presupposition or habits do I have that keep me from living within this success. There are moments where I am a rock and the courage shines forth like lightning and then there are other times where it vanishes like smoke.

 

It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” ~Muhammad Ali

As I’ve studied these men and their wisdom it brought me back to something familiar but somehow foreign… I know that in learning, the moment of owning a concept making it your own, is when the opportunity  and capacity for action occurs. So today I want to take what been soaking into my soul and to turn these principles so you might see them again  but maybe in a way that might affect spark something in you.

Today I want to look at a verse of scripture… Now don’t run.  If you look at this your see that this is for you no matter your belief or view of the bible. You might just find something beautiful  and useful here. You see conquering fear, success isn’t a secret. These are universal concepts that are understood by many. The secret is allowing your heart to grasp them.  That’s our goal today.

Now I have to sheepishly admit that as  a Christian man, a husband, father, former pro fighter and  Pastor, I’ve held on to a  bible verse as a lucky rabbit foot for much of my Christian life. But the problem is I was given this verse early on and thought I understood it, because I was familiar with it. I would get it out when scared and rub it like Aladdin’s lamp hoping for a plume of courage to come rolling out. Unfortunately knowing the verse and understanding it, are not the same. It’s like saying I grew up with a mother and sister and therefore I understand woman, Yikes. Seeing something all the time doesn’t mean you understand it.

Sometimes it is only in pain that our hearts are awakened to take a new look at something. Recently I’ve been taking  time to re-examine my heart, my life, my motivation and my character and I’ve come back to this verse and asked what does it really mean can it help or have I failed its gift?Or is there principles within it that if I grasp will re-establish my courage.

So lets look at the verse. It comes from a personal letter from Paul (the mentor, teacher, life coach of Timothy) to Timothy. A young man placed in charge of a multiple house churches in the city of Ephesus this was a city where the churches and culture were being torn apart from within. Paul wants Timothy to step up and quash the squabbling to bring a message that brings unity within the people.  This has to be a tremendously hard time for this young man as he dealt with timidity, anxiety, social pressures and personal stresses. In the letter we see this charge.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (KJV)

Yes, your probably familiar… That was my problem also.

First off the  KJV (above)  I have to say takes some liberties (as all translators must) in trying to capture the meaning that maybe aren’t helpful to us today. It is easy to lose the realization of plasticity or words and miss the most literal or conceptual translation.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (KJV)

Lets start by looking at  “the Spirit” (There is no definitive article in Greek and therefore can and probably should be translated as “a spirit” not “the Spirit”(most modern versions use “a” were the NIV takes spirit out all together as says “we were not made timid”).

The Greek word here is transliterated as pneuma: and means spirit, inner life, self, disposition, state of mind,  spirit being or power. 

So this is less about a spirit being given us or implanted in us (Holy Spirit) and more about who, or how we are made to be, what are very nature is.. Lets keep going.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (KJV)

The word “Fear” here comes from the Greek word transliterated as Deilia. This should be translated as “cowardice” and not “fear“. Let me explain the difference. Fear is what leads to Cowardice. Fear is an emotion that leads to the flight or fight response. Cowardice is the response of flight or shutting down. In studying the etymology (origin of the Word) of cowardice its roots comes from french and latin meaning “one with a tail” or “to turn tail”.

There is no shame in fear, When I fought I always felt fear, but knew it was a helpful tool to prepare me for the battle I was committed to.  When we feel fear in our relationships our dreams and think oh no there is something wrong!!! Fear is normal cowardice isn’t your weren’t made to run or cower but to stand!

“Fear is like fire. You can make it work for you: it can warm you in the winter, cook your food when you’re hungry, give you light when you are in the dark, and produce energy. Let it go out of control and it can hurt you, even kill you… Fear is a friend of exceptional people.”
~ Cus D’Amato

So thus far it might be better said.” we weren’t created as cowards, our inner nature isn’t designed to flee or turn from fear or discomfort. But we have been designed and given”…?”

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (KJV)

The word the KJV translates as “power” (transliterated as dynamis) Where we get dynamite but even more pointedly the word dynamic . This word expresses an outward action or effect. It is normally used to try to express the ability to perform a particular activity, a specific capability. But ability falls short of what it means. For this word doesn’t express the aptitude but the actual expression. It isn’t a feeling or untapped potential. I think it might be presented most accurately as we are given the Do or Doing within us.

“Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfillment.” ~Tony Robbins

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (KJV)

The word “love” is translated from Agapeo, In my language studies the greatest difference in this word and Phileo  (“brother love”) isn’t in regards to the depth of affection that one feels but the action of commitment toward the emotion. If we make our decision based upon only ourselves we will allow the emotions of the moment to rule our actions. If we live for something greater that ourselves. If our lives are directed by more than just our momentary satisfaction, if we can  see past the moment of fear and choose to act in love and not cowardice.

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.”
― George Lucas

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (KJV)

This last word transliterated “sōphronismos” is a tough one and the KJV translates as a “sound mind“, other version use “sound judgment. This term has such nuances as to be translated as rational, intellectually sound, without illusion, purposeful, moderate, prudent, modest, restrained, and disciplined.

It was a word that was used  in Stoicism, as a cardinal virtue. I think of it as your courage is to be used not recklessly, or without intent ,but with purpose and intellect. Our courage should have laser focus. We might say today; That our courage, our heart should reflect our drive and commitment to our mission our calling and our charge above fear above our emotion and above our comfort.

I’ve rewritten this text  in a way that speaks to my heart and hopefully reflect the intent of the text, Maybe it will speak to yours as well

“We weren’t created as cowards, our inner nature isn’t designed to flee or turn from fear or discomfort.  We have been designed and given the ability and capability to act, and do. Cowardice is defeated and fear overwhelmed when our hearts are directed outside ourselves, when our minds are focused, and directed by just goals, a clear mission, and a powerful calling”. 

This verse isn’t about hoping God will give you something to take away your fear or discomfort. or that he will stir up in you the strength to succeed. It’s a reminder that all you need is in already in you. Take the step, commit yourself, be the Champion you were  made to be.

Your dreams are waiting.

Doug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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