Winter is here! No real snow, but cold and windy! Whew!
This Christian walk is full of twists and turns, ebbs and tides. We go through periods of closeness with Jesus and times when we wander. I have found myself anxious about worldly things and divided in my attention to the Lord. It’s strange. Just as I can’t imagine straying when I am tight with Jesus, I find it difficult to get back to him when I do. Now, you may not notice this because my writings would seem to indicate that I stay tight all the time. Yes, I am in tune during the time I write, but I must admit that I am not that way throughout the entire day. Some days I really wonder about myself. How is it possible that I would desire anything than walking step-in-step with Jesus? Yet, I do.
I rest knowing that I am not the only one with this problem. That’s what much of 2 Timothy is about, or so it seems to me. The trick for me is to be quicker and quicker to realize when I have strayed and react accordingly. I’m going to share some of what has caught my attention this morning.
2 Timothy 1:3-7 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith.…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.
Where do we even start with this? Honestly, this could be a sermon series in itself. For our purposes (for my purpose to get my head back in the game), Paul is instructing Timothy, “For this reason I remind you.” To do what? “Fan into flame the gift of God.” Interesting. Paul recognizes that our flame can die down, and he’s encouraging Timothy to stir it up just as one would a campfire. That means we have to watch the fire that is the gift of God. We have to pay attention to it. If we get all involved fishing, we may find our campfire nearly out. I think that’s most of my problem right now. I’m distracted with other things (some not so honorable, I might add) and have let my fire cool down. The way I see it from this passage, this happens and is part of life. That’s why Paul reminds Timothy to fan it into flame.
Notice also how Paul led into this. He prays for Timothy, often, no, constantly. He thanks God for Timothy. He yearns to be with him again. In that he would find great joy. How can we conclude anything other than that Paul is very fond of Timothy? Very, very fond of him. He makes a point of telling this to Timothy in a way that he won’t soon forget. This should remind us to say the same things to those whom we love. Often.
Another thing is that Paul recognizes Timothy’s faith, a sincere faith. I skipped over the part in which he compared Timothy’s faith to that of his grandmother and mother. What an honor that must have been! But what is most interesting is that as far has Paul is concerned, Timothy’s faith is sincere. Period. That Paul reminds Timothy to “fan into flames” doesn’t change the fact that he considers Timothy’s faith to be sincere. That encourages me, as it should you. Yes, I get distracted, but that doesn’t change the fact that my faith is indeed sincere. It really is. We can rest comfortably when we consider where it came from in the first place:
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
That’s why Paul can be confident in Timothy’s faith. It has nothing to do with Timothy and everything to do with the Holy Spirit that now resides in him. From there, it is up to Timothy to fan it into flames (or even grieve it, God forbid!). Paul is intent, in this letter, to encourage Timothy. How cool is that! He then goes on to write:
2 Timothy 2:1-7 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
What are my instructions? Tell others about Jesus. Share the gospel. Teach others to do the same. That is how I keep my head straight and in the game, the eternal, kingdom game. By doing so, I will obtain the first share of the crops, the fruit of the Spirit. How does Paul describe that Spirit? As one not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Self-control. That’s a big one for me. I’m slowly learning this, but the best way for me to gain self-control is not by white-knuckling it but by pursuing Jesus. Time with him in prayer and my bible and sharing all this with others. When I do these things, self-control doesn’t seem to be an issue. Crazy, but when I let go of self-control and indulge in Jesus, self-control in other things isn’t even an issue.
Father, thank you for the reality check. Thank you for the kind words that you had Paul pen to Timothy. I know that you are saying this to me. I can feel your love and assurance. Thank you! Amen!
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers