6 Therefore, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.
2 Timothy 1:6-7
If death was fast approaching you, what final advice would you give to your family, your closest friends, or the leaders of your church? The Apostle Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy knowing that his Roman jailors would soon lead him to his execution. Paul’s final letter from prison is full of urgent advice, exhortation, warning, and encouragement for his young protégé Timothy, whom Paul regarded as a son.
“Therefore” at the start of verse six sets up the central theme of Paul’s final letter. Because of Timothy’s sincere faith, Paul now reminds him to “rekindle the gift of God that is in you.” The word “rekindle” may suggest that somehow Timothy’s “fire” for the gospel was getting low. Was Paul warning Timothy against complacency or lack of enthusiasm?
The Greek word for “rekindle” does not imply the need to relight a dying fire; rather, the idea is to “keep the fire blazing.” “Keep stirring up the fire” is closest to the intent of the original.
Paul reminds Timothy that God “has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment” (verse 7). “Spirit” refers to the human spirit under the control of the Holy Spirit. The word “fear” is a military word referring to cowardice—running away from the enemy. God has not given us a spirit of cowardice.
God provides Christians with a spirit of power. The Greek word for power is dunamis, which gives us our English words “dynamic” and “dynamite.” Our power comes from the Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. We Christians have access to that same power.
God provides us with a spirit of love. The Greek word is agape, a selfless, self-sacrificial and unconditional love. It is God’s love demonstrated in the sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Love is a gift of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
God provides us with the spirit of sound judgment. The Greek word sophronismos refers to “control,” or more specifically, “self-control” or “discipline.” We Christians have the ability to exercise self-control—another gift of the Holy Spirit.
When Christians claim the gifts God has given us, we can walk daily with boldness instead of cowardice, with the power of the Holy Spirit within us, with self-sacrificial and unconditional love, and with self-control. As we “keep stirring up the fire,” our Christian witness becomes a roaring blaze, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit will be evident to everyone around us.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Are you familiar with the name Edward Donald Slovik (1920-1945)? Private Slovik was (and remains) the only United States soldier executed for cowardice. Slovik had deserted his unit during World War II and faced a court-martial. The court-martial found that Slovik had deserted “to avoid hazardous duty and to shirk important service.” He had “deliberately sought the safety and comparative comfort of the guardhouse.” Do some so-called Christians, like Private Slovik, deliberately seek the “safety and comparative comfort” of the church in order to avoid “hazardous duty” and to “shirk important service” for the Kingdom of God outside the church?
- What role did your parents and grandparents play in your coming to faith in Christ? Paul writes that he thanks the Lord whenever he recalls Timothy and prays for him night and day, remembering their tearful parting and Timothy’s “sincere faith.” This was the legacy of two of the New Testament’s heroic women: Timothy’s grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. Take time to remember the relatives and friends who helped lead you to a saving knowledge of Jesus.
- What can you do to “keep stirring up the fire” of your faith?
- Assuming you will die soon, write an urgent letter of advice and encouragement to your family, a close friend, or leaders of your church.
Pray for frontier missions work around the world. Frontier peoples are those among whom there are no Christians. There is no way for them to be discipled unless someone crosses the cultural barrier to tell them about Jesus. Some of our global workers make digital resources that can be shared in frontier settings.