By Jared Segerstrom
Students, are you afraid of what the future holds? Are you worried that due to COVID-19, this school year will fail to meet expectations? Maybe your fears aren’t virus-related. Perhaps you’re in a setting, Christian, public, or home, where you feel the pressure to cave to worldly pressures instead of standing up for Jesus. A new school year might mean new anxieties, new concerns, new issues.
If you are fearful entering this school year, then turn to God’s Word for hope. God’s Word isn’t for people who have their lives all put together. Within the pages of the Bible, there are precious promises for scared, weak, and needy people to grab hold of. We find one of those promises in 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”
God has equipped us with a spirit NOT of fear. Nothing we will face this year, whether COVID-19, ridicule, impossible classes, or failed friendships, is stronger than God. He has given us everything we need this school year to glorify Him and make His name famous.
Paul reminds Timothy in this verse that God has given us a spirit of power and love and self-control.
First, Paul says we have a spirit of power. You might be thinking, “How is that possible?! I’m just about the weakest person I know. I’m not the smartest, most athletic, most talented, or strongest Christian. How do I have a spirit of power?”
Paul answers that question in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’”
It’s exactly when we feel the weakest that God displays His power. When we fall on our knees and confess to God that we can’t make it through this school year without Him, He pours His grace on us. That grace is sufficient, it is enough. He works in and through us to have the power to fight sin, pursue excellence in our schoolwork, start gospel conversations, and commit our concerns to Him.
Second, Paul reminds us that we have a spirit of love. Before Jesus saves us, we are hopelessly enslaved to selfishness. Our dead hearts ignore other people’s interests, and we only care about ourselves. But when God opens our blind, selfish eyes, we see the magnitude of our sin and the magnitude of His love for us. God’s love wasn’t just spoken; it was shown in His sending Jesus to die as our substitute and rise again from the grave.
As God continues to show us grace after we believe, He equips us to take the love He has shown us and share that with others. When we are consumed with fear, our eyes look inward. A spirit of love looks outward to other people’s fear, concerns, loneliness, and pain and responds with compassion. This school year is an opportunity to demonstrate a spirit of love through self-sacrificing service to those around us. And as the apostle John reminds us, “Perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).
Finally, Paul reminds us that we have a spirit of sound judgment. As we seek to answer difficult life questions this school year, we need sound judgment. Sound judgment means making decisions that line up with what Scripture teaches. While it doesn’t give specific steps to follow for every situation, God’s Word gives us a framework to make wise decisions.
When we embrace God’s Word as our sufficient authority, we can approach this school year’s challenges with sound judgment. Instead of cowering in fear, we can stand for Biblical truth. We can bring God’s Word into controversial issues with boldness and kindness. We can stand on God’s Word even if it costs us popularity, friendship, or comfort. God has given us a spirit of sound judgment.
As we enter this fall and the challenges a new school year presents, we do not need to be afraid. With a spirit of power, let’s start a gospel conversation with someone needing to hear the hope of Jesus. With a spirit of love, let’s initiate a friendship with someone who looks different than us. With a spirit of sound judgment let’s resist temptation and stand for Biblical truth no matter the cost. God is with us! He has given us everything we need. Let’s enter this school year with no fear.
Jared Segerstrom serves as student ministries pastor at Soteria Church, West Des Moines, Iowa. This article was originally posted to Soteria’s blog and is reposted here by permission. Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Version.