The 20 Verses You Love Most: #4 Blown Away

The 20 Verses You Love Most | Liz Curtis Higgs

When you talk about the Holy Spirit, some believers get a little nervous. Others become really excited. And many just scratch their heads.

This verse gives us a crystal-clear, non-scary, yet full-throttle sense of the Spirit’s role in our lives. The Greek word pneuma means “spirit, wind, breath,” so God breathes life into us through his Spirit.

Here’s what happens next.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.2 Timothy 1:7

Wind, Pneuma, Spirit

For the Spirit God gave us… 2 Timothy 1:7

Just as a body can’t live without air, a believer can’t live without the Holy Spirit. “The spirit he has bestowed on us” (KNOX) shows the world we belong to God. Even more than a bride slipping on a wedding band or a baseball player wearing a team uniform, “when you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13).

A permanent marker. An unbreakable seal. This one is mine.

The Word assures us, “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). The Spirit is a gift—unearned and undeserved—from the One who knows our wobbly faith will require constant proof of his love, his acceptance, his grace, his affection.

Before he tells us what the Holy Spirit does, God reminds us what he doesn’t do.

Timid Young Woman

…does not make us timid, but… 2 Timothy 1:7

This is the only verse in the Bible that uses the Greek word deilia, meaning “reticence.” To be honest, “timid” is too soft a word. We’re talking “terror” (OJB) and “dread” (WYC).

Icy hands. Weak knees. Tight throats.

But the Holy Spirit “is not one that shrinks from danger” (KNOX). He doesn’t leave us “craven and cringing” (AMP), and he “doesn’t make cowards out of us” (CEV).

No, beloved. He takes away that “spirit of fearfulness” (ASV), and makes us strong. Brave. Unafraid.

Woman Running

…gives us power,… 2 Timothy 1:7

When we belong to God and are filled with his Spirit, we’re no longer running on our power. We’re running on his power. The Greek word dunamis means “miraculous power, might, strength.” Think dynamite, with all its explosive energy.

For those among us who are naturally timid, reticent, or shy, the idea of being “bold” (MSG) or having “a spirit of action” (KNOX) might be thrilling. Or it might be unnerving. Will I suddenly turn into a wild woman? Speak out at meetings? Approach strangers on the street?

Relax. With the Holy Spirit as your “source of power” (ERV), you can be sure whatever he prompts and enables you to do will be for your good and for God’s glory.

Heart in Hands

…love… 2 Timothy 1:7

There are several words for love in the Bible. This one is agápē, a love centered in moral preference. God doesn’t love you because he has to, but because he chooses to. It’s not duty but desire on his part.

God desires me? Yes, he does.

In the same way, the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to love others in Jesus’ name, not simply because it’s the right thing to do, but because we genuinely care about them. God’s love for them flows through us, refreshing us as we refresh others.

The Holy Spirit not only makes us emotionally and spiritually strong, but mentally and practically strong as well.

Her Mind's Made Up

…and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

I’m not crazy about that first bit—“self.” Too much emphasis on us, not enough on the Holy Spirit, who “helps us control ourselves” (NIRV). That’s “why we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

The Greek word sóphronismos, used only in this verse, means “wise discretion.” With the Holy Spirit at work in us, we’re “sensible” (MSG) and “well-balanced” (AMP), with “a sound mind” (GNV) and “good judgment” (EXB).

Alas, there may be a few fleeting moments when the flesh runs roughshod over the Spirit, and discipline goes out the window. Mind if I share one of those?

While speaking at a recent Christian writer’s conference, I stepped into the business center of the hotel to print out my notes. Both computers were occupied. A writing sister sat at one, and a gentleman I didn’t recognize was winding things up at the other.

As he gathered his papers, I said in cheery voice, “All finished, Brother?”

“Brother?!” he snarled, then started for the door in a huff. Oops. Clearly not part of our group.

“Sorry!” I called after him, trying to explain myself. “I was thinking ‘Brother’ sounded friendlier than ‘Sir.’ Or ‘Mister.’ Or ‘Buddy.’” When he didn’t acknowledge me, and banged the door shut behind him, I shouted out what I was really thinking. “Jerk!”

Closed Door

My feathers still ruffled, I dropped onto the chair, hoping he hadn’t heard me, only to realize that my Christian sister had heard and seen it all.

She smiled. “Glad to know you’re human, Liz.”

“Oh, I’m human, all right.” Groan.

So what’s the deal here? If the Holy Spirit lives in us, strengthening our faith, filling us with love for others, giving us discernment and good judgment, what was that about?

That was what happens when we let our sin nature step forward. The Holy Spirit doesn’t desert us. He lets us have our way because that’s the only way some of us learn—by messing up. Whether the man heard me or not really isn’t the point. It was the attitude of my heart and the sharpness of my words that were the problem.

Humbled by my foolishness, I asked my friend’s forgiveness, the Lord’s forgiveness, and shared the story with the audience that night as an example of what not to do. Had I been able to track down the man, I would have apologized to him as well.

Did I learn a valuable lesson? You bet. Is that my favorite method of education? Not for a minute. Will that experience leap to mind next time I’m tempted to be unkind? Count on it.

Why use a negative example for such a positive verse? Because if you happen to experience a moment of weakness in the near future, I want you to know 1) you are not alone and 2) the Holy Spirit is still in charge. In fact, more in charge than ever, as he uses our mistakes to teach us what grace and mercy look like yet again.

You are so patient, Lord. So very patient.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.2 Timothy 1:7

Now it’s your turn

As late as this post is, I’m thinking God wanted to make certain I included the above life lesson from last week’s conference!

Since we experience his grace best when we confess our need for it, feel free to share your own ignore-the-Holy-Spirit story here among friends. Or offer an encouraging example of a time when you knew the Lord stepped in before you veered in the wrong direction. Just add your response under Post a Comment at the bottom, and bless you for doing so.

Because our next Bible study, Bad Girls of the Bible, begins Wednesday, September 4, I’ll be posting our last three favorite verses in quick succession. Won’t it be fun to see what lands at #1?

Your sister, Liz

Your Sister in Christ, Liz Curtis Higgs

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35 Responses to The 20 Verses You Love Most: #4 Blown Away

  1. Julee McCamey August 21, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    I have been having some financial struggles lately, and occasionally get tired of pinching pennies and going without – no excuse for what happened next. I was delivering food from a co-workers garden to our church food pantry. No one was at the church or the parsonage, and the pastor asked me to leave the produce by the kitchen door. Ok, did that. I had been walking past a small planter on the front porch for weeks with two little purple plants in it that weren’t really doing very well. Purple is my favorite color, and without a second thought, I helped myself to those plants. The minute I put them in my car, I knew it was wrong, wrong, wrong, but I thought: “Well, I’ll just replace them with something better.” I took those plants home and put them in my empty flowerbed, and you know, I did not replace them. The sad thing is that, had I asked, I’m pretty certain they would have been given to me. Why did I do it? No excuse, just human flesh – bad girl human flesh. Now, at some point in time I need to either replace those plants, or tell the pastor what I did, or both, I should do both. Will I? I don’t know, but God saw the whole thing, and I am ashamed! There’s another story for you – and, by the by, the plants in my flower bed are, of course, dying!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 22, 2013 at 8:26 am #

      Bless you, Julee, for courageously sharing your story. Now that you’ve confessed to your sisters here, you might find it easier to let the pastor know what happened to the plants. I’m quite certain he/she will dismiss your concerns without a second thought. I mean, really, two dying plants! For your own sake, and to hold the enemy and his shaming ways at bay, I’d take that leap of faith and fess up, if you can. Meanwhile, sending love and hugs your direction, and prayers for your financial struggles to ease.

  2. Patti iverson August 21, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    yeah but yeah but yeah but… no prob with timid, power, love–but the self-discipline bites me every time because all one has to do is LOOK at me and can see I’m not. Obviously I do not have it via the Holy Spirit or any smidgen of self–or I wouldn’t be fat. Some flaws hide on the inside. My lack is right up front for all to see. And it’s hard to explain to myself, let alone others, sigh… But! I’ll defend my Holy Spirit who lives in me as a gift from God until my last breath–there’s no voo doo about Him–and that’s The Truth!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 22, 2013 at 8:30 am #

      Isn’t it a blessing that the Holy Spirit is “one size fits all”? You are loved by God, Patti, exactly as you are. We’re all a work in progress, that’s for sure!

  3. Shauna August 21, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    Well, I’m SOOOO relieved that I am not the only one who jas those kinds of moments. My problem is, by the time I’ve blown up or said something unkind, I remember the lesson(s) too late-like about a split second after. So thankful for His forgiveness. And Liz, even if you had seen that man again, I don’t think he would have been any more responsive or open to your apology. Sometimes we just have to say a prayer that their day gets better and take comfort in knowing God understands and loves us anyway!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 22, 2013 at 8:31 am #

      Well said, Shauna. Still praying he didn’t hear me… :>)

      • Shauna August 22, 2013 at 9:59 am #

        Me too! 😉

  4. CarolAnne August 21, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    Wow, glad to know someone else says “jerk”. I throw that at my dear family but do apologize almost as quickly. Also feel awful at lack of control, and pray for help & guidance. It is a work-in-progress. This has been a great bible study and am looking forward to that number one verse, and the list of all 20. God bless you, Liz! XO

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 22, 2013 at 8:31 am #

      Thanks for “getting it,” CarolAnne!

  5. hilary adams August 22, 2013 at 1:53 am #

    here in Johannesburg , driving on the roads has become “interesting”. there seem to be no rules anymore, no consequences for bad driving !.I try and drive with my mouth firmly shut… but often a word similar to “jerk” escapes. then I know for sure it is time to play a calming CD and sing praises to the One who loves me even when I mess up .

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 22, 2013 at 8:33 am #

      Great solution, Hilary, and a wise conclusion. (I’ve been a passenger on those roads in Johannesburg, and you are absolutely right…ayeeee!)

  6. Connie August 22, 2013 at 5:19 am #

    I was so touched to see this verse come up. It has been one that has “shown up” several times this past week. Amazing how God will show us things if we are mindful of Him. My prayer is that He will show me even more and that the Holy Spirit guides me when I feel that timidness of self-doubt. Thanks Liz for the posts because they are teaching me how to study God’s word.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 22, 2013 at 8:36 am #

      Honored to know you are learning this process with me, Connie. Bless you!

  7. SueB August 22, 2013 at 5:46 am #

    Guilty as charged.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 22, 2013 at 8:35 am #

      And forgiven, as promised, dear Sue: “your sins have been forgiven on account of his name” (1 John 2:12).

  8. Tina W. August 22, 2013 at 8:39 am #

    Thanks Liz and sisters for sharing your weak moments! My prayer: Holy Spirit please stop us in our tracks when we are about to spout off, give a dirty look or slam a door! Help us really cultivate that fruit of the Spirit- self control!”
    Liz- I’m so looking forward to what God will share through you next! Love you!

  9. Linda H August 22, 2013 at 9:09 am #

    Loved the reminder in the first paragraph under “gives us power”. Thank you Lord when I’m running that it is your “miraculous power, might and strength” that I need. Loved your story Liz. It made me laugh out loud! I seem to be having trouble with self-discipline lately with being angry at even the littlest things. My faithful loving husband is the target. Things come out of my mouth that shame me. I find I am having to ask forgiveness more than I want to admit. So thankful we serve a faithful, loving, forgiving God!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 22, 2013 at 10:30 am #

      Amen, amen, amen, Linda. Faithful, loving, forgiving!

  10. Barb Smith August 22, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    Your sharing your “jerk” moment is also what we sisters need to hear as much any of your writings because we must remember that we are human and that we do mess up; some of us daily; however His grace & mercy & forgiveness is new every single day and we must never stop asking for guidance in this and continue to try to do better with His help every day.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 22, 2013 at 10:36 am #

      I almost didn’t include it–so embarrassing to confess–but the Holy Spirit’s prompting was loud and clear. Thanks for the grace, Barb.

  11. Karen Dodgson August 22, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    As I read this weeks verse, the song “Signed, sealed, delivered…..I’m Yours!” kept playing in my head. It’s so fitting with this verse I thought I’d share it…after all, when you think about it, we are signed with the cross, sealed with His spirit, and delivered from evil. Wow, what a package of promise that is!
    I’m so glad I’m not alone when I curse or judge then feel terrible and ask forgiveness over and over! Next time, I’m going to sing that song to Him as a prayer.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 22, 2013 at 10:33 am #

      A really good plan, Karen. The first time I read your comment, I thought it said, “…delivered from email.” Tee-hee. Singing with you, sister.

  12. Brenda Williams August 22, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    Thank you… again, Liz. Thank you so much. I had just finished reading this when a co-worker walked in. I was reminded to pray for her. She has a lot on her plate and I have been of the habit lately to dismiss some of her “foolishness”. This fit right in and I am so thankful for the reminder. God bless you.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 22, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

      Faithful God, and always right on time!

  13. pauline maclean August 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    Is it really confession time? I pray every morning ” God please let your light shine through me so that others can see you through me. ” what the heck do they see when my frustrations come out. I have found myself even this morning after reading your post about ready to say something ( I’m already thinking it) that would not be up lifting. God please forgiven my stubborn attitude. Can’t it always be My way? It’s My or no way. Sometimes I can be so ugly. ugh!!!!! thank you Liz for you honesty I have only just a few months ago stumbled upon your facebook post through a friend. I have finished “Bad Girls and Mad Mary”. I listened to you yesterday on line and the was awesome. I am constantly amazed how God uses others to minister to me. Of course you write only to minister to Me right. thanks again for the blessing that you are, your Sister in Jesus.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 22, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

      You got it, Pauline. All for you! :>) Actually, that IS how I think of ministry: one sister at a time. Honored to encourage you in any way I can. And relieved to know I’m not the only one who can get a serious attitude going. But I do so long for that flesh to be squelched for good.

      God has carried me a long way from my truly Bad Girl days (“Jerk” would have been a very mild epithet indeed back then!). Still, so far to go. As the old hymn says, “Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin.”

  14. Jenny August 22, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

    Just having to deal with unkind and difficult people. And they are Christians most of the time which makes me sad. It is easy for me to forgive unbelievers. They don’t know better! So I have a difficult time not being hurt. On another note, I lose my self control with my immediate family and they are the ones who deserve it the least. Why is it so hard to change these bad habits? I pray and ask for The Lord’s help daily. Then it makes me sad that I am not a more grace and joy filled person around my family. I snapped at my daughter the other day at the gas station to get back in the car, because she was fooling around and we needed to go. Her Sunday school teacher happened to be standing right beside us. She was very sweet and seemed to understand, but it made me hear myself, a self I do not like!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 25, 2013 at 10:04 am #

      I hear you loud and clear, Jenny. We often ARE harder on our families than we are with strangers. As to having a witness help us “hear ourselves,” I think that’s God’s gentle way of showing us who we truly are. We can’t change what we can’t see. How FAITHFUL God is to be our loving mirror!

  15. Julie Sunne August 23, 2013 at 11:07 am #

    That’s why so many love you and learn from you, Liz, because you are quick to acknowledge your failures. You’ve taught more through your momentary failure and repentance than through anything else you could say. Blessings, Sister!

    P.S.: It is nice to know you’re human! 🙂

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 25, 2013 at 10:00 am #

      Oh, way too human, I’m afraid. Bless you for affirming that I went in the right direction with this post. I’d rather keep such blunders under wraps, but I believe with all my heart that God is best served by our honest failures rather than our prideful successes. The longer I walk with the Lord, the more aware I am of HOW MUCH I need his grace!

  16. Marge August 24, 2013 at 7:33 am #

    Another driver not paying attention almost ran my husband and I off the road, in my anger i yelled “idiot,”. My husband rebuked me and reminded me of scripture not to call any one a fool. I said I did not call him a fool I called him an idiot. It means the same thing said my husband The next evening during Bible study ( my husband teaching) he read a verse that refered to some one as a “dumb dog”. So now if I get upset withsome one I quote scripture and simply say, they are a dumb dog. I will find scripture and send it to you.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 25, 2013 at 9:54 am #

      Oh yes, I found that Scripture, Marge!
      “His watchmen are blind, they are all without knowledge;
      they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark;
      dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber.” Isaiah 56:10 (RSV)
      Thanks for pointing us in that direction. ;>)

  17. Tina August 24, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    I have noticed for a little while now that if I start talking about something I really shouldn’t or start into an area that is particularly uncomfortable for me, the other person changes the subject, the phone rings, someone else joins the conversation…always a distraction or redirection of some sort. To me that is the Lord gently saying…shut up…NOW! 😉 Thankfully, I go with the flow and the bad situation is avoided.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs August 25, 2013 at 9:57 am #

      Isn’t God GOOD to help us like that? May we always follow his lead and so steer clear of problems in the first place. Learning, learning, ever learning. Praising God this morning for his PATIENCE.