Scriptural Gem for March 2015

In 2 Timothy 1:7, we read: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (NLT)

In our reading above, the translation of the last word as 'self-discipline' obscures the rich meaning of the Greek word used by Paul in the original text. The same word is used by the writer of Acts when he quotes Paul in Acts 26:25: "But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but I speak forth the words of truth and soberness." (KJV)

Neither the word 'self-discipline' nor the word 'soberness' reflect the true meaning of the original Greek word 'sophron' used in the passages above. The word 'sophron' is made up of two parts. The first part is 'sozo' which means 'save', and the second part is 'phren' which is the Greek word for 'mind'. So, the word literally means 'a saved mind'. We can paraphrase what Paul is saying to Festus in this way: "No, most noble Festus, I am not insane, but I speak from a saved mind."

On a human level, we tend to instruct people to 'pull themselves together' or to 'come to their senses', but what the word 'sophron' implies is that we cannot accomplish that on our own. Our minds literally have to be saved by God Himself. In other words, we are not only lost, but are quite insane before we are saved and Christ enters in!

There is another wonderful passage, in the gospel according to Mark, where the word 'sophron' is used. It is in Mark 5:1-20, the account of the madman living among the tombs: "And they come to Jesus, and seeing him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind...' Mark 5:15 (KJV)

Dear friends, in a time where various labels of 'Mental Illness' are applied to every conceivable sinful behaviour, let us not think that the solution lies in the latest mind-altering medication or psychotherapy. The only solution is found when the living God saves our very minds. "Lord, we are insane until you reach down and restore us to sanity by Your mighty hand. We praise and thank You. Amen."

Werner Schreiber