“For this reason I remind you to fan into ﬂame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit, not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
2 Timothy 1:6-7
My Dear Brothers,
As you stand here before God and before the church of Jesus Christ, I believe I know you well enough to know that you feel the weightiness of your oﬃce. That is good and right. But I want to encourage you in this…weightiness is appropriate, fear is not. That is not who you are, and it is not representative of the gift of the Spirit who has been given to you.
I’ve just read to you from Paul’s second letter to Timothy, written to encourage him in his calling. I’ve chosen these two brief verses from Paul’s letter to encourage you in your calling. Paul begins by speaking of the “reason” behind his encouragement. That “reason” is the faith which has been passed down to Timothy from his mother and grandmother, a faith which Paul has witnessed, and been blessed by. Brothers, along with the other elders, I have been encouraged and blessed to walk through these past few months with you, learning more of how the Lord Jesus has redeemed you, and of how He has gifted you. And for that reason, I encourage you to fan into ﬂame your gifting.
On one hand, Paul is speaking of the gift of redemption in Jesus Christ, evidenced by faith. But beyond the gift of faith, Paul is also talking about your ordination, which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit’s gifting, and of God’s call on your life to put that gifting to work in the service of the church, as an elder or deacon. So my dear brothers, fan into ﬂame your God given gifting.
In other words, stoke the ﬁre. You know how ﬁres are stoked. They are given more fuel so they can burn hotter and brighter. Stoke the ﬁre of your gifting by putting it to work. For the glory of Christ, serve the people of Christ Church. For the glory of Christ, shepherd and serve the people of Christ Church. This is your heart. It is your gifting, given to you for this purpose. So live into it.
But I believe there is more to your fanning the ﬂame than simply putting your gifting to work. Ultimately, the fuel which will drive your loving service to Jesus’ bride is your heart of love for Jesus Himself. So cling to the Word of God. Be devoted to it, and through the Word, grow more deeply in love with the Word incarnate. Walk in union with Him. Pray in union with Him. Serve in union with Him. Shepherd in union with Him. Your passionate pursuit of Christ will not only fan the ﬂame of your gifting, it will fan the ﬂame of Christ Church.
Finally, as Paul encourages Timothy, he reminds him that he is not alone. He has been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, to strengthen and shape his own spirit. With the Spirit, there is no place for fear. Trusting in His work, ﬂee from fear, and lean in to His power. Let your walking in love be shaped by His love. And let your mind and your actions be marked by a spirit of self-control…a self-control which is being formed in you more and more as you cling to the Word of Truth.
My dear brothers, Paul needed to encourage Timothy in this because he could be given over to fear. He was young. He dealt with physical ailments. He was not what we often think of as a dynamic Christian leader. He was simply the man whom God had called to serve His church in a particular place at a particular moment in time. In other words, Timothy was a lot like you. And like you, God gifted him. God called him. And God continued to sustain him. God did this for Timothy in times of ministry success and in times of great suﬀering. He will do the same for you. So fan into ﬂame the gift that has been given you. Fall more deeply in love with Jesus. Serve His bride. Trust in His Spirit. And may He bring great glory to Himself, with every step of your journey.
Grace and Peace,