WHY YOU SHOULDN’T BE AFRAID OF CORONAVIRUS by Michael G. Brown for Core Christianity
In 2 Timothy 1:7, the Apostle Paul writes, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Finding great comfort in this promise, I preached a sermon on this verse in my home church on the evening I was installed as a missionary to Italy. Two days later, my wife, son and I arrived in the city of Milan where we began adapting to a new culture, language, and home. At the time, we had no idea how much we would come to cling to this promise. Beyond the ordinary challenges of life and ministry on the foreign mission field, we found ourselves living in the epicenter of Italy’s devastating Covid-19 outbreak. Of more than 180,000 cases and 24,000 deaths in these past two months, the majority have been in the region in which we live. With overflowing hospitals, grieving families, and the constant sound of sirens, the city of Milan has a broken heart. People are living in fear. At such a distressing time as this, how can we minister to others and proclaim hope? Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 1:7 provide us with an answer.
A Spirit Not of Fear
Paul wrote to his colleague Timothy to encourage him. Timothy, the pastor of the church at Ephesus, was living in fear. False teachers were attacking the gospel, people in the church were questioning his authority, and he was discouraged about Paul’s imprisonment and declining reputation. Paul found it urgent to remind this young pastor whom he had mentored that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
It is important to understand the kind of fear of which Paul speaks in this verse, for the Bible talks about fear in different ways. There is a kind of fear that believers are called to pursue, namely, the fear of the Lord. The book of Proverbs tells us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10) and “a fountain of life” (14:27). Psalm 19 says that “the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever” (v. 9). The whole book of Ecclesiastes is summed by reminding us to “fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13). The fear of the Lord is one of the central themes in the Scriptures, for it expresses the way in which humans were designed to live in relationship to their Creator, namely, to revere, respect, honor and love him.