I have mentioned before that for my 21st birthday, many many and a few more years ago, the pastor and his wife gave me a New Century Version youth bible as a present, maybe they were hinting at something with it being a youth bible. Anyway, inside the front cover alongside all the presented to, by, on this date stuff they had inscribed 2 Tim Chp 1 – 6 & 7.
This is why I remind you to keep using the gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. Now let it grow, as a small flame grows into a fire. God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NCV)
It is because of that inscription 2 Timothy 1:6-7 has stuck with me all these years even when I wasn’t overly connected with my faith because I always thought that the pastor had judged me spot on. He knew that I was someone who preferred to be behind the scenes, in fact often hiding behind the scenes, and I was not the most courageous or confident of young Christians when it came to talking about my faith.
Jump forwards more than 21 years and I have found myself confronted by issues in my life such as anxiety, introversion and a lack of confidence which caused me to really focus on 2 Timothy 1:6-7, although these days I prefer the NIV wording
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 the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline 2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NIV)
And having really focussed on these verses I have really grown to love the way the Apostle Paul wrote his letters because so many of his verses are self explanatory and self validating. This is very much the case with 2 Timothy 1:6-7 which easily breaks down to a series of points, especially if you add in verse 8.
1) What’s the gift?
Depending on what version of the bible you use this may not always be immediately obvious as on one hand in the NCV we have “the gift God gave you” and on the other in the NIV we have “the gift of God” and I am sure it will be worded differently elsewhere. But the answer to this is to be found in verse 7; we have been given the spirit of love, self-discipline and power rather than being timid, or to put it another way thanks to the spirit we are to be confident and full of courage. As I said I reckon my pastor had me sussed back then when it came to being lacking in confidence and courage, and maybe self-discipline, which is why he and his wife picked 2 Timothy 1:6-7 as verses for me.
2) But why those gifts?
This is where you need to jump out of verses 6-7 and jump in to 2 Timothy 1:8 for the answer
So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God 2 Timothy 1:8 (NIV)
So there you go, we need these gifts of strength, love and self-discipline when talking about the good news and should not let any suffering we may face in doing so put us off. You could break it down further to needing the courage to spread the good news unashamedly, love for those we talk to whether they listen to or mock us and the self-discipline to keep on going when we not only get knock backs but are anxieties start to try to sabotage us.
3) I have tried to be courageous, loving and self-disciplined but I fail?
Again we need to drop into verse 8 for the answer, to see how we have the courage, the love and the self-discipline as it is not through are own might but by the power of God we achieve these things. And I will be the first to admit there has been times when I have wanted to be courageous in speaking about my faith only to allow fear to prevent me and I know each time it was me trying to pump myself up to do it rather than resting in God’s power.
4) So how do I fan these gifts into flames?
Have you heard of Eat, Pray, Love well this is Read, Pray, Do
- Read and remember all the truths of the Bible; being God’s handiwork, being children of God, Jesus loves us… and I could go on as time again the bible teaches us all we need to be confident in who we are and what we believe, as well as being loving and self-disciplined.
- Pray for guidance, pray for the filling of the Holy Spirit, pray for the right words to say at the right time and the strength to rally against those fears and anxieties which try to sabotage us.
- Do, yes because whilst it is great to become theoretically fired up through reading the bible and praying there comes a time when with God’s help we need to take that step of faith and do. And then keep on doing knowing that this is what God called you for, to spread the good news and not to be ashamed of it. And like with many things the more you “do” the stronger and more confident you become yet the minute you stop you stop feeding that flame and it can be hard to get going again, although not impossible with God’s help.
There you have it. If my old pastor ever read this I hope he would smile as it has taken some time but I finally get it, or at least maybe I am just starting to get it. But I have to admit that I need to do more of the “do” part when it comes to fanning the flames as far too often I allow my insecurity and belief in my own limitations to prevent me from letting go and letting God.