by Mike Ratliff
13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. 15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. 16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. 1 Timothy 4:13-16 (NASB)
The way the gospel is presented in our time is backward. It is focused incorrectly. Instead of focusing on what God has done for us who have nothing in and of ourselves to warrant it; the way the gospel is given ever since I can remember is to attempt to make it appealing as if people should decide to try Jesus for 30 or 60 days to see if He makes a difference. What a joke! What blasphemy! To be honest, the closer I get to the front lines in serving my Lord, the more our enemy attacks me. The more I suffer. The more problems I have. However, I do not serve my Lord to get away from that stuff. I serve Him for His glory and my Lord went to the Cross for me so how can I seek the easy way out here and now?
If a person wants Jesus for personal gain then they are seeking another Jesus, not the one I know. The one I know has given me something far more valuable than anything this world has to offer. I have eternal life in Him and no matter how bad the circumstances or attacks from our enemy or medical conditions I must bear in this life, I know that my part until it is over is to stir up the gift of God given to me by Him in order for me to serve Him to edify the Body of Christ and bring Him glory. Therefore, I open the Word of God and teach as He directs.
3 I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 2 Timothy 1:3-7 (NASB)
3 Χάριν ἔχω τῷ θεῷ, ᾧ λατρεύω ἀπὸ προγόνων ἐν καθαρᾷ συνειδήσει, ὡς ἀδιάλειπτον ἔχω τὴν περὶ σοῦ μνείαν ἐν ταῖς δεήσεσίν μου νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας, 4 ἐπιποθῶν σε ἰδεῖν, μεμνημένος σου τῶν δακρύων, ἵνα χαρᾶς πληρωθῶ, 5 ὑπόμνησιν λαβὼν τῆς ἐν σοὶ ἀνυποκρίτου πίστεως, ἥτις ἐνῴκησεν πρῶτον ἐν τῇ μάμμῃ σου Λωΐδι καὶ τῇ μητρί σου Εὐνίκῃ, πέπεισμαι δὲ ὅτι καὶ ἐν σοί.
6 Διʼ ἣν αἰτίαν ἀναμιμνῄσκω σε ἀναζωπυρεῖν τὸ χάρισμα τοῦ θεοῦ, ὅ ἐστιν ἐν σοὶ διὰ τῆς ἐπιθέσεως τῶν χειρῶν μου. 7 οὐ γὰρ ἔδωκεν ἡμῖν ὁ θεὸς πνεῦμα δειλίας ἀλλὰ δυνάμεως καὶ ἀγάπης καὶ σωφρονισμοῦ. 2 Timothy 1:3-7 (NA28)
Paul tells Timothy that he thanks God for him and his sincere faith, which was also evident in his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. Because Paul was confident in the sincerity of Timothy’s faith, in v6, he reminds him ἀναζωπυρεῖν “to rekindle” τὸ χάρισμα τοῦ Θεου “the gift of God” ὅ ἐστιν ἐν σοὶ διὰ τῆς ἐπιθέσεως τῶν χειρῶν μου· “which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” For a summary of this event read 1 Timothy 4:13-16, which I placed at the top of this post. Paul is urging Timothy to do what? The verb ἀναζωπυρεῖν (anazōpyrein) is the present tense, infinitive mood, active voice case of ἀναζωπυρέω (anazōpyreō), which appears only here in the New Testament. It means “to kindle up the flame,” or “to rekindle the fire.” Another way to say it is, “to store up smoldering embers into a living flame.” Think of a campfire that is down to just smoldering embers. If add fuel and fan the flames correctly then we will certainly be able to rekindle it. With that analogy think of the Word of God the Holy Spirit. The fuel is God’s Word and Holy Spirit is the fan and the stirring that rekindles the warmth and passion in the believer. This is what Paul is talking about with Timothy. Timothy had received spiritual gifts to serve the Body of Christ. Paul is concerned here with Timothy’s gifts of preaching, teaching, and evangelizing. All believers are stewards of the God-given gifts given to them. It is sinful to let them fall into disuse.
In v7 Paul gives us a hint of why Timothy may have been not using his gifts as he should have been. The noun Paul used here that is translated as “fear,” δειλίας (deilias), can also be translated “timidity” or “cowardice.” It denotes a cowardly, shameful fear caused by a weak, selfish character. Timothy could have become more timid as the threat of Roman persecution escalated. Also, the Ephesian church resented Timothy’s leadership. This coupled with the many attacks from false teachers could have overwhelmed him. Paul is telling Timothy here that if he is withdrawing in fear then this “Spirit of δειλίας” is not from God. Instead, God has given us the πνεῦμα δυνάμεως καὶ ἀγάπης καὶ σωφρονισμου, the spirit of power and love and discipline (self-control).
Instead of being fearful, we have all the spiritual resources we need for every trial and threat. This does not mean we will not have problems, attacks, or threats, but that we will have the right resources from Him to meet them. The Love here, ἀγάπης, centers on pleasing God and seeking what is best for others before one’s self. The mind-set σωφρονισμου is actually the opposite of fear and cowardice. The spirit of fear causes disorder and confusion. This spirit does the opposite. Why? It focuses on the sovereign nature and perfect purposes of our eternal God. Why is this important? When we more fully understand the sovereignty of God and surrender to it in more and more of our lives, the more godly wisdom and confidence in every situation we will have because we will be fully in line with Him and His will instead of being tossed in every direction by our circumstances.
How do we fan into flames the gift given to us by God that He gave us to enable us to serve the Body of Christ and bring Him glory? We must reject the πνεῦμα δειλίας, the spirit of fear, while embracing the πνεῦμα δυνάμεως καὶ ἀγάπης καὶ σωφρονισμου, the spirit of power and of love and of discipline. We reject what is not from God and embrace that that we know is from God.
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:8-12 (NASB)
The more God uses us in the Kingdom, the more we will be partakers in the suffering for the gospel by the power of God. This is just the way it is. Notice that our salvation and our calling are for God’s purposes not ours nor are they according to our works. When we have this mindset, we can endure anything.
Soli Deo Gloria!