Read: 2 Timothy 1:6-7:
6 This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (NLT)
What Does it Mean?
Paul exhorts Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God” because God didn’t give us “a spirit of…timidity”. There are two things to notice about this. The first is that God gives us gifts. All of us. Every single Christian has been given one (or more) gifts by God that He intends for us to use for His Glory. 1 Corinthians 12 is a whole chapter on spiritual gifts that are given to the body of Christ. As Christians we are called to serve, and it is the Holy Spirit who enables us to serve. The second point of note is that we have to use (fan into flame) the gifts we’re given, and not be timid about it. Just as the Holy Spirit enables us to serve within our giftings in the body of Christ, the Holy Spirit also enables us to overcome fear and weakness.
It would be a total waste of time for us to try and serve, as God intends us to, without the power of the Holy Spirit. The gifting and the Holy Spirit are both required elements in the equation. Whilst talent, training and experience are helpful, they are useless without the power of the Holy Spirit to propel us into becoming who God intends for us to be. Like it or not, we don’t get the option to receive the gift and refuse the Holy Spirit in favour of operating in our own strength, or, even worse, refuse to use the gift because we’re afraid.
What exactly does it mean to “fan into flame”? Let’s consider for a moment that the gifts that God puts inside us are small fires. If you light a fire but never tend to it, never add any more wood or coal, never stir up the embers, then it will dwindle out and you’ll just be left with a pile of ashes. The gifts that God gives to us need tending, fueling – and that happens through our Spiritual Life. We fan into flame our gifts by feeding them with Spiritual Disciplines such as reading the Bible, prayer, worship, community with other Christians. Without these essential elements, our gifts will dry up. With them, we open up a conduit that allows the Holy Spirit to fill us, empower us and use us.
The Bottom Line
God does not give us a spirit of timidity, because He wants us to be bold and courageous (see Joshua 1:9) and because fear, as a concept, is in opposition to faith. Instead, He give us the Holy Spirit, who fills us with “power, love and self-discipline”. Our responsibility is to use the gifts that God has given us, and keep our fires burning through Spiritual Disciplines, and the Holy Spirit will do the rest.
- What gifts has God given you to enable you to serve as part of the body of Christ?
- How easy do you find it to use your gifts?
- What does it mean that faith and fear are in opposition?
- How are your fires burning? Do you spend enough time tending them? How can you tend to them better?