A Bible study through 2 Timothy
From the very beginning, Paul opens his letter to Timothy with words of love, affection, and joy. He is blessed and encouraged by Timothy’s love for the Lord and faithful service in the work of the ministry. Within the first seven verses of this book, Paul not only celebrates Timothy’s faith, but he points out the power of a godly legacy.
Timothy had the opportunity to build off of the faith of his mother and grandmother. He was raised in a God-fearing home and witnessed the daily lives of these God-fearing adult figures. This undoubtedly opened his heart to the gospel at a young age and helped set his trajectory early in life. However, even though Timothy had a godly Christian heritage, he now had a responsibility to carry on the faith. Using the race running metaphor, Timothy had been handed the baton of faith from his grandmother and mother. Now, it was his turn to run with perseverance and endurance the race set before him.
Therefore, Paul encourages Timothy with the following exhortation.
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 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.”
~2 Timothy 1:5-6
Note the all-important phrase “for this reason.” Because of Timothy’s rich spiritual heritage and the godly legacy he possessed, Paul wanted to remind him to fan into flame the gifts God gave him. The Greek word for gifts is only used in the New Testament for gifts given by God. They are undeserved, unearned, and often refer to supernatural giftings. Therefore, Timothy had been entrusted with special abilities, supernatural gifts, and talents from God, and Paul encouraged him to steward them well.
However, the Greek word translated as “fan into flame” means more than just faithfully stewarding. It’s a powerful verb meaning rekindle or stir up. It is a word used in the context of lighting and maintaining a roaring fire. It takes work, maintenance, and constant supervision. A fire must be watched so that it doesn’t go out. If the flames are dimming, the coals must be stirred and more fuel added to the blaze. Likewise, Paul wanted Timothy to keep aflame the gifts God gave him—to not let them die for neglect or lack of fuel, but to keep them blazing hot and strong for God’s glory.
Likewise, we are called to the same thing: to keep the fire of our love and passion for Christ burning strong in the midst of a dark world. As the well-known idiom accurately states that you can either “use it or lose it,” so also our spiritual life can go cold without use and exercise. We must actively pursue the things of God, practicing and using our gifts, and watching the fire of our devotion to Christ to keep it alight for God’s glory. We must rekindle, stir up, and fan into flame our own gifts so that we can be useful and faithful ministers of God and a dangerous adversary to the kingdom of darkness.
So what gifts do you need to fan into flame? What are some practical ways you can stir up or rekindle your fire for God? Are the flames of your passion growing dim or burning even brighter?
Timothy had the privilege of growing up in a godly home, and therefore, had a head start on his spiritual journey in many ways, which is why Paul encouraged him not to grow complacent but to actively pursue more passion, more fire, more enthusiasm, and more of God. Similarly, those of us who have also been raised in a Christian home also have the same responsibility. Just because our parents gave us a head start in our spiritual journey does not mean that we can take it easy. We must run just as hard, if not harder, towards God.
However, if you did not grow up in a Christian home, don’t feel disadvantaged! Rather, commit to starting a godly legacy now and giving this gift to your children and grandchildren. We can see in Timothy’s life the power of a godly legacy, so resolve to be the Lois or Eunice of your family. And fan into flame the gifts God has given you, keeping the fire of your heart blazing like a beacon in the night pointing to the glory and love of God.
Therefore, no matter what season of life we’re in or what our upbringing and background, let us heed Paul’s exhortation to Timothy and actively fan into flame, stir up, rekindle, and keep aflame our passion and love for Christ and steward well the gifts He has given us!