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2 Timothy 1:3-14 (Part 1)

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 did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (verses 6-7)


We’re in a new house with no fireplace. We miss it. Each of our previous homes had one and we’d regularly stoke it, getting a good blaze going. We actually had a huge supply of

firewood just around the side of the house, so opportunity was not lacking. But there were two challenges. One, was that the wood-pile was not well covered (my fault), so the wood often arrived in the fireplace somewhat damp. Secondly, the wood came from toppled trees in our backyard, chain-sawed into sections by a friend, but much of it actually requiring further chopping to reduce its size, a process which hadn’t yet happened (again, my fault).

As a result, we often had somewhat damp, somewhat oversized chunks of wood in that fireplace. To get any kind of fire going at all required a fair bit of extra attention. So, down we’d get on hands and knees, me and the kids, blowing for all we were worth into that fireplace, trying desperately to get enough oxygen to the struggling flame. And it worked! Even with slightly challenged materials the extra effort to fan the flame (with adequate kindling as part of the mix), most often produced a good blaze!

Paul says: Timothy, do that with the gift God has given you. Don’t neglect it. Don’t assume it will simply burst into blaze on its own. Give it attention. Pour on the oxygen. Give it ample opportunity to burn bright.

It’s important to remember that what Paul is talking about here is a gift from God himself. Spiritual gifts, bestowed by the Spirit as he chooses, don’t reflect on us, they reflect on our Lord. We’ve each got one, or several – so put them to work. Use them to step into the good works which God himself has prepared for you before the foundation of the world. Don’t hold back.

And as you engage, pour on all the spiritual oxygen that’s necessary. Paul mentions four things that either inhibit or accentuate this process.

The first, which severely inhibits oxygen-flow, is “timidity.”Stoked by fear, insecurity, false humility, or perfectionism, timidity is the very essence of what it means to squelch the fire. It causes us to disengage in the first place or to only engage with faint heart. You can imagine evangelism without enthusiasm, or faith that is tentative, or helps that are half-hearted, or leadership that fails to sound the call. Timidity pours water on the fire.

“Power,” on the other hand, blows fiercely on the gift with the confidence of the resurrection, secure in the fact that the power that raised Jesus from the dead is actually resident within us. Power, in Paul’s writings, is so often connected with the Spirit of God himself – so here. By trusting in the Spirit, making ourselves available to his enabling, fresh wind breathes in us. The gift is set ablaze.

“Love” is the fuel for the whole Christian life. So, too, in the exercise of gifts. If we remember that the gifts themselves are given for the common good, we’ll find they only reach their true capacity if exercised out of love for others. Selfishness and pride get in the way. But desire to build others up, bringing them blessing, will stoke the flames, making the gift bright.

Finally, “self-discipline” fans the flame. So often there is the need for ongoing practice and exercise that allows a gift to function to capacity. Self-discipline urges that ongoing activity. The gift of teaching is strengthened through regular use. So, too, faith and service. Prophecy requires the discipline of listening. Giving requires the discipline of self-sacrifice. Fan the Spirit’s gifts into flame by continual use – self-discipline is the tool the Spirit will use.

Timid Timothy, presumably, needed Paul’s encouragement. Presumably he heeded the call. May we, too, allow the wind of the Spirit to blow through us to bring about combustion. May the gifts blaze forth.


Lord, thank you for your gifts. Strengthen within me the commitment to allow spiritual oxygen to flow – power and love and self-discipline. Breathe by your Spirit. Use me in the good works you have long prepared. To Jesus’ glory. Amen.


Reflect: What gift is the Lord wanting to fan into flame? What steps will you take?


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