For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Tim 1:7
The Greek word used for timidity in this verse is also associated with cowardice. Revelation plainly states that cowards will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, rather; they will be cast into the fires of hell (Rev 21:8). The courageous inspire; cowards repulse.
One inspiring Christian is undoubtedly the third century martyr Perpetua. A 22 year old woman living in North Africa. At the time denouncing the Emperor of Rome, in favour of Christ, was punishable by death. Perpetua was imprisoned and separated from her new baby, her pagan father pleaded she would honour the Caesar of Rome and thus be set free. She refused. Her subsequent death sentence was gruesome and violent. Cast into the gladiator arena, Perpetua was first whipped then gorged by a bull, set upon by leopards and finally run through by a Gladiator’s sword. Writings of the time, however, state she carried herself like nobility showing no fear. Joyfully singing psalms she faced a crowd of ten thousand insulting her. She died alone in the world, not so dissimilar to her beloved Saviour.
Perpetua became the most famous Christian woman to die a martyr’s death in the Roman Empire. Her example of Christian resolve and courage, choosing to suffer and die with a clear conscience, rather than deny her Saviour, inspired generations of Roman Christians to stand firm in the face of relentless persecution (Hammond).
Paul’s encouragement to not be timid (or show cowardice) but rather stand in the power of God, with love and self control is directed precisely toward Christian testimony. His next verse is clear. “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.”
When Paul encourages Timothy he is not enticing him to rise up and conquer in the power of Christ. The power given, through the Spirit, is to enable the endurance, patience and joy necessary to face persecution and suffering (Col 1:11). The persecution that comes when we courageously proclaim the gospel.
We need to be unperturbed by the consequences of sharing Christ. Whether we offend others by it, lose our jobs or even face martyrdom. The sharing is to be done in a Spirit of love not dominance all whilst maintaining Godly self control. Perpetua’s legacy lingers on; she entered a deathly arena with poise, courage and grace. A true royal priesthood ( 1 Peter 2:9).
Read more of Perpetua here