“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 1:7
I love the relationship that the apostle Paul had with Timothy. He affectionately refers to Timothy as his beloved child. Now, Paul was never married and had no earthly children, so we know that Paul is referring to Timothy as his spiritual child, one that he has discipled and trained in the gospel. Paul exhorts Timothy here to guard what has been entrusted to him – the gift of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ. It appears that Paul might have had some reason to fear that Timothy’s faith was in danger of weakening. Perhaps Timothy feared persecution or suffering for the sake of the gospel. Since Paul was depending on Timothy to continue the work he had begun, it is quite understandable that Paul was concerned. So, he lovingly and graciously spurs Timothy on with his words here in these verses.
As I studied this passage, an overwhelming theme came to my mind. Fear is the enemy of faith. Just think about that with me for a moment. Paul had walked with Timothy, trained him to fully understand the gospel and to preach it with authority. Yet for some reason, Paul has what seems to be understandable concern for Timothy’s faith. Perhaps the pressure of ministry was weighing so heavily upon Timothy’s shoulders that Paul was worried that he would crumble under the weight of it. Or maybe Paul worried for Timothy, knowing the persecution he would more than likely face and wondered if would stand firm in his faith until the end. Whatever it might be, we can conclude that Timothy was facing some fears of his own. Paul’s shoes were quite large ones to fill, and if Timothy were to let fear creep in even for a moment, the results could be devastating.
Fear is the enemy of faith. It clouds our vision and hinders us from fulfilling our purpose. Paul knew this well and thus had a strong sense of urgency. When we choose to embrace fear, we release our grip on Jesus. Whatever we fear becomes greater in our eyes than our Savior. That is why I love the reminder in these verses! “Fan into flame the gift of God…” If you have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ in faith, you have received the gift of God. What are you doing to fan it into flame? Is it no more than a spark that is ready to curse the darkness, or is it a roaring fire, faith that is ablaze for Jesus Christ?
Believe me, I have many fears of my own…the fear of failure, the fear of being alone, the fear of rejection…need I go on? Yet the truth I have found in God’s Word points me toward faith every time, causing me with each step toward Jesus to overcome fear. God has not given me a spirit of fear, therefore I am not to walk in fear of what He has called me to. I can’t help but think back over the past few years of my life, years that were filled with fear. I knew that God had called me to spend my life ministering God’s love and grace to women. I knew that God had given me gifts that suited me for what He had called me to. I knew that He wanted me to write and teach His Word. Yet, I remained stagnant, paralyzed with fear, refusing to step out in faith and trusting that He was in charge of the end result. My thoughts were filled with fear: “What if I fail? What if I’m no good? What if they can all see right through me?” So, I sat and I waited…and missed out on the blessing that God was ready to give me then. All I can say is that I’m so grateful for His patience with me. He never gave up on me even though it had appeared that I had given up. He never stopped speaking to me, nudging me, calling out to me to follow Him. I remember the night I sat down for the first time in years and began to write again, so afraid of what others might think of what I had to say. But the love of the Lord pulled me forward and carried me through. From that one night of choosing faith over fear, God created Neue Thing, a ministry that I pray blesses women everywhere no matter their walk in life, regardless of their past or their present. God has called you to something that you are perfectly gifted for, something that will bring Him glory and fill you with joy. Fan into flame the gift of God in your life. Refuse fear and embrace faith.