Paul begins his second letter to Timothy with his typical greeting and then encourages Timothy to remain strong; or be courageous (2 Timothy 1:6-7). Isn’t it usually the other way around? Normally its the person on the outside encouraging the person in jail to be courageous. But this isn’t the case with Paul. He wants Timothy to remain strong in his faith.
History tells us that Timothy was a timid man, it was in his nature to be more reserved. Therefore Paul specifically reminds Timothy to fan into flame the gift of God. This phrase is a rekindling the embers of a flame. The ember isn’t dead, it just needs to be revived. It comes from the Greek word ἀναζωπυρεῖν (anazōpyren). It’s a verb and the tense it’s written in requires action to be done. This is the only time we see it used in the entire Bible. Paul is commanding Timothy to fan his spiritual flame. The text doesn’t suggest Timothy had let his spiritual flame die out. Paul was encouraging Timothy not to let his faith, mentioned in verse 5, die out.
Are you taking spiritual growth seriously? Is your spiritual ember growing weak? Rekindling a spiritual flame involves prayer, obedience to God’s word and taking risks for your faith. It looks like listening more to the voice of God and less to the noise around you. This may be exactly the encouragement some of you need right now.
Your faith is still an ember, its not dead, but it may be endanger of dying. Sadly, you have neglected your prayer life and your soul is left parched. It’s become difficult to think of the last time you opened God’s word and allowed it to feed your soul; you have been left spiritually hungry. Because of this lack of prayer and time in God’s word your faith is weak. Take courage as a Christ follower this morning and fan into flame the spiritual ember living inside you.
Paul is encouraging Timothy in ways we would expect a seasoned pastor to. By rekindling the flame his courage in the Gospel would be increased. It reminds me of what God said to Joshua after Moses passed away.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9This is similar to what Paul is telling Timothy. The courage stems from the power of the Holy Spirit working in his life. The love of the Holy Spirit was given, by God, to provide the support to have courage when he thought it was impossible. Have you ever experienced this? Have you seen God give you courage when you’ve felt timid?
Fifteen years ago my life was a mess. I was attending my court mandated DUI class in San Diego trying to figure out life. Across the room from me there was this guy in class who always talked about God and the Lord. I knew God growing up but I didn’t expect to find Him mentioned in a DUI class! Well one day I was leaving class. As I walked out of the door this man said; “My name is Brett. If you keep doing what you’re doing you’re going to be dead in five years. Do you want to go to church with me this weekend?” I was a little shocked, I’m not sure that’s the best evangelism line to use on someone, but he was right.
That Sunday Brett picked me up for church. He drove thirty minutes to get me and then we drove thirty minutes back to the church he attended. This went on for almost an entire year. On the car ride we talked about everything; sobriety, purity, reading God’s word, work, school and food.
Brett was the first guy to disciple me, I didn’t know he was discipling me but he was and it was because he had the courage to invite me to attend church. Brett isn’t a pastor. He never went to seminary. He is just a normal guy who had the guts to invite a messed up kid to church. I like what Billy Graham says:
“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”I imagine Timothy perking up in his chair reading this letter from Paul.
Now I’m not suggesting you leaving here and getting a DUI so you can meet broken people at DUI school. You could probably think of a few people, who are already in your life, that you could be a little more courageous with. It might be a family member who you can encourage to fan the flame in their life. It might be a friend you met at the gym who shared they used to go to church but have slowly walked away. As Christ followers it’s our responsibility to be courageous and encourage each other. If your spiritual ember is not dead, fan it into flame and respond to the call to help others do the same.