"For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power and of love and of sobermindedness" (2 Tim. 1:7).
Cowardice is not humbleness. Being humble is absolutely forgetting one’s self—one’s weaknesses as well as one’s strengths. Being a coward is remembering one’s weaknesses and one’s self. Shrinking back and timidity do not please God. On the one hand, God desires us to be trembling because we are nothing, but on the other hand, He wants us to be bold to step forward because of His power. To be bold is to witness for the Lord, to suffer pain, to bear shame, to lose everything, to rely on the Lord, and to trust in His love, wisdom, power, truthfulness, and promises. This is what the Lord desires of us. Whenever we see ourselves shrinking back in matters like witnessing for the Lord, we should realize that our spirit has left its proper condition. We should keep our spirit in "fearlessness."
We should have a spirit of power, love, and a sober mind. Our spirit needs to be strong and powerful, but it should not be so strong as to become unloving. Being quiet, self-disciplined, and not easily provoked are also important. To resist the enemy, our spirit needs to be strong; to deal with people in the world, our spirit needs to be loving; to conduct ourselves properly, our spirit needs to be sober.
"The hidden man of the heart in the incorruptible adornment of a meek and quiet spirit, which is very costly in the sight of God" (1 Pet. 3:4).
Even though this word is spoken to the sisters, spiritually speaking, the brothers also need such a teaching.
"To aspire to be quiet" (1 Thes. 4:11) is the responsibility of every believer. Today there is indeed too much talking among the believers. Sometimes, there are more unspoken words than those that are spoken. Confused thoughts and garrulous speakings are sufficient to cause our spirit to wander outside the control of our will. An "uncontrolled spirit" will often cause man to act according to the flesh. When the spirit of a believer is uncontrolled, it is very difficult for him to keep himself from sinning. An erring spirit often leads to wrong conduct.
Before the mouth will be quiet, the spirit must be quiet, because whatever is in the spirit will come out from the mouth. We should always be careful to keep our spirit quiet so that we can remain quiet when things become confusing. A quiet spirit is indispensable in order for us to walk according to the spirit. Otherwise, we will fall into sin. If our spirit is quiet, we can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in our spirit. Then we can execute God’s will and understand what we cannot understand amid confusion. This quiet spirit is the ornament of a believer. It is what a believer should express outwardly.
"In newness of spirit" (Rom. 7:6).
This is a very important step in spiritual life and work. A stale spirit cannot touch people. At the most, it can give people some kind of thought. Even so, it is powerless; it cannot make people think earnestly. A stale spirit only generates stale thoughts. A vivacious life can never flow out of a stale spirit. Whatever the stale spirit generates—words, teachings, attitudes, thoughts, living—is stale and old and belongs to the past. Many doctrines only reach the believer’s mind, they have no root in the spirit. Behind the teaching there is no spirit to "touch" another’s spirit. Maybe a believer has a doctrine which he once experienced, but now the doctrine has become something of the past, a souvenir, a memory in the mind—it has passed from the spirit to the mind. His thought may be quite fresh, newly received in the mind. But since the thought has not been substantiated by life, those who hear him and those who are near him will not feel that there is a fresh spirit touching them.
Many times we have seen a kind of Christian who always obtains something new from the Lord. When we stand in front of such a person, we almost feel as if he has just come from the Lord’s presence and has brought us before the Lord. This kind of person seems to continually obtain new strength, just like eagles do. This is the way young people are. They do not give people dry, rotten, and infested manna in the mind but fish and bread on the fire of coals in the spirit. This is newness. Apart from this, everything is stale. No matter how deep and how marvelous some thoughts may seem, they can never touch people the way the new and fresh spirit can.
We must keep our spirit new and fresh. If our spirit has not been in the Lord and blessed by the Lord, it is unfit to meet others. No matter whether it is our life, thought, or experience, if something becomes a memory in the past, it is stale. All we have must continually be new from the Lord. Imitating others, without the experience in life, definitely does not count, but even imitating one’s own past experience also has no effect. This should make us realize the importance of "I live because of the Father" (John 6:57). Only when we constantly draw the Father’s life to be our life can our spirit be new and fresh all the time. A spirit that is not new and fresh cannot bear fruit in labor, cannot walk according to the Spirit in life, and cannot overcome in battle. A stale spirit cannot see man because it has not yet seen God. For the spirit to remain fresh all the time, it must always be touching God.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 13: The Spiritual Man (2), Chapter 11, by Watchman Nee)