Fan the flame: Devotional Commentary for September 1-7
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
6Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
8Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,
9who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,
10but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
11to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
12For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
As noted in last week's devotional meditation, Paul opened his second letter to Timothy with an assertion of his apostolic authority and his appointment to proclaim God's Good News of the promise of life to the lost. Now, knowing his race of life is about to end and that the work of the Gospel must continue after him, he urged Timothy to take his responsibilities for the work of the Gospel seriously and respond to the call courageously.
Besides his expressions of love and commendation for his son in the Spirit, Paul put in Timothy's mind how he has been prepared to take on the responsibility to lead the church and to spread the Gospel. He reminded him of the value of his Christian heritage and his own constant prayer for him. Then he strongly urged him to flame the fire of the calling he received sometime during Paul's second or third missionary journey when he laid hands on him and ordained him to a ministerial position of leadership and teaching.
Paul wanted Timothy to understand that he was not just a sinner saved by Grace. He wanted to impress upon him the seriousness of his calling to serve God as a leader of the church and a teacher of the Gospel. He wanted him to know that God has called him to do the work of an Evangelist. As he affirmed in his first letter, Paul reminded Timothy how he was confirmed as a church leader and a minister of the Gospel by the Spirit's prophetic confirmation and the prayer of a body of elders.
The essence of Paul's strong prompting was to inspire Timothy to enthusiastically respond to the call vested in him. God called him to a specific ministry of shepherding and nurturing an assembly of believers. Timothy was not only set apart for a specific ministry, but also gifted and empowered by God to fulfill his calling.
With his usual and unobjectionable candor, Paul reminded Timothy that God has instilled in him power, love, and a sound mind. He was endowed with courage, care, and good and godly judgment. He was equipped with efficient and effective wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. He had no reason to be afraid or ashamed. Actually, he was without excuse.
Paul urged Timothy to stir the gift within him and answer God's call with a responsive obedience unhindered by fear or shame. The salvation and the call he received are bestowed by God in Christ Jesus through His Grace. So Timothy did not have to look to his own shortcomings and be discouraged or feel ashamed of Paul who was then in prison.
In Fact, Paul encouraged Timothy to firmly stand on what God had done in saving him before the foundation of the world. Actually, he invited him to join him both in the testimony of the Gospel and even suffering for the sake of Christ if necessary. Speaking from his own experience, Paul assured Timothy that accepting God's call with enthusiasm and facing suffering courageously and willingly require faith and commitment to the One Who conquered death and gave us life and immortality through the light of the Gospel.
Therefore, reasoned Paul with Timothy, given the gift of power, love, and sound mind, and recognizing the One Whom he believed and to Whom all that he is and he has is committed, he should stir up what he had been given and enthusiastically flame the fire of ministry in his heart. Paul knew. Thus, he exhorted and urged his son in the Spirit to overcome fear and shame by God's Power and become the torchbearer for the Gospel. Simply put, Paul exhorted Timothy, to understand who he is in Jesus Christ, to be aware of the calling God had placed in his heart, to recognize God's Power at work in him, and respond courageously in obedience.
Fan the flame, is Paul's charge to Timothy. One might wonder what flame and how is it fanned! Paul tells us that a call to ministry was kindled in Timothy's heart when he and the elders prayed for him and the Holy Spirit gave a prophetic confirmation of his appointment to labor for the Gospel. Paul sought to urge Timothy to fan the flame of the Gospel in his heart to keep his own enthusiasm from dying out. Paul did not want his son in the Spirit to be like the servant who buried his talent and disappointed his master.
Paul's admonition to Timothy brings the subject of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility to the foreground. As clearly affirmed in the text before us, both our salvation and calling are exclusively determined, initiated, and executed by God's sovereign authority and His pleasure through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. However, God's sovereignty never excludes man's responsibility. God actually created us to be both responsible and responsive. To be sure, man's responsibility serves God's purpose and is instrumental in fulfilling His plans and actions. It is a tool in God's hand.
When God redeems us for Himself, we die to everything else but not to Him. We are dead to sin but not to righteousness. We are dead to death itself but not to life in Christ. We are dead to hell but not to heaven. We are dead to the devil but not to Christ. We are dead to self but not to the Holy Spirit. We are alive in Christ, and if we are, then we are called to responsibly answer God in obedience, so that all of our sanctified faculties would serve God's purpose.
Thus, even though Timothy was relatively young and probably timid, Paul exhorted him to lean on God's Power in him and answer God's call to service courageously and with conviction. His responsive obedience is God's tool for fanning the flame in his heart. It is not a matter of resolve or the will of the mind. It is obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit as He engages our will and our mind to answer God. Fear, shame, and indifference do not define God's children. After all, we are not given the spirit of fear and shame, but of power, love, and a sound mind; for He Who is in us is greater than all the power outside of us, destroying every reason for fear, shame, and indifference.