“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.” – Thomas Paine, The Crisis
This past Sunday I made the following statement from the pulpit. This is not an exact quote because I didn’t write it down and so find it impossible to recreate verbatim. “2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. That being the case I urge each of us to not live in fear of this virus but to place our trust and hope in God. At the same time I also urge each one to exercise their best judgment for their particular circumstance. If you are in what has been defined as the high risk group, do whatever it is that you need to do to protect yourself. If you are not in that group please consider those who are and do not put them at risk.”
As is so often the case with such statements, as well as with many passages in the Bible, I’m afraid that some heard only what they wanted to hear/agreed with and ignored the rest. To clarify, let’s take a closer look at Paul’s statement.
First, it is absolutely true that God has NOT given us a spirit of fear. He expects us to rely on Him for our strength and guidance in life. After all, He is the “rock of our salvation” (Psa 95:1). If He is for us, who can be against us (Rom 8:31)? He loves us with a never ending love and desires what is best for us (Rom 8:28).
Second, God has given us a spirit of power. His power is our power when it comes to dealing with the issues of life. God is bigger than any problem we may face. His love for us is greater than any obstacle we may have to overcome (Jn 3:16; Rom 5:8; 8:32-39).
Third, God has also given us a spirit of love. This includes not only our love for Him, but also our love for our fellowman (1 Cor 13:5). As such, we always seek the best interests of others (Phil 2:4-8). Our love for others should cause us to take care of our own health so that we may be able to take care of those who rely on us. Furthermore, it is a known fact that people can be carriers of this virus without having any symptoms or outward signs of infection. That being the case, if we have been in any public places we do not know, yea cannot know, what we may be carrying. Therefore, we should strive to keep our distance from those others who may have a weaker immune system and be more susceptible to this malady.
Fourth, God has given us a spirit of a sound mind. A sound mind is one which thinks rationally, is able to reasonably assess risks, and exercises good judgment. For example, we are commanded to pray for those who are suffering, especially those who are sick (Jas 5:13-15). Yet, when we are sick we also seek medical attention. One does not nullify the other but both are complimentary to one another. Even acknowledging the awesome power of a loving God we do not take unnecessary risks. We don’t step in front of speeding vehicles, we don’t intentionally drink poison, we don’t stick our hand in the fire, etc. Why? Because God has given us a spirit of a sound mind and we use it (hopefully) to preserve our health and well being in order to be of greater service to Him.
So, do what you have to do but don’t take unnecessary risks. Use what God has given you properly.