Paul’s call to courage started with an instruction to Timothy: Fan the flame (of God’s gift within you). And that was the subject our first look into what I called a Timothy Talk. Successful communication tells us what, why, and how. Paul’s call to courage made it plain to Timothy, and to us, what needed to be done. So let’s see what the Apostle said about why we should fan the flame of God’s gift!

Fan The Flame: 2 Timothy 1:1-12

It’s interesting to note that Timothy’s gift came through the laying on of Paul’s hands (vs. 6). We might not stop to consider this at all if it weren’t for I Timothy 4:14. Here, Paul reminded Timothy that his gift was accompanied by prophecy. And I think the reminder is of the events mentioned in I Timothy 4. Further, we learn of the council of elders. In our modern practice, we would call this Timothy’s ordination. Since Timothy was Paul’s son in the faith, we have every reason to think Paul was part of this council of elders. But what about the prophecy?

Paul’s call to courage here in 2 Timothy 1 connects things in Timothy’s life. It’s there for us to see. Paul needed to remind Timothy that fear is not from God. And why would that be helpful? In order to embrace the prophecy of Timothy’s service to the Lord. Paul reminded Timothy (vs. 6) of his calling, of the prophecy, and of his commissioning for service by Paul and the other elders. All of that sets up the Why? of Paul’s call to courage.

Timothy had to courageously embrace his gift and calling. Notice verses 7 & 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, 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…

Do you see it? This is a treasure trove of insight.

Fan The Flame: Join With Me

The conclusions aren’t stated explicitly. But they are there. Timothy needed his courage strengthened. Stated in the negative, Timothy was fearful. And I am always glad God’s Word doesn’t paint a picture of disciples who had no challenges or weaknesses. Fear can overtake any of us.

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Resources to help you fan the flame of God’s gift within you!

Second, it seems Paul expected Timothy would suffer in using his God-given gifts. Notice Paul said: …join with me in suffering… I see it like the line we have all heard from the water’s edge: Come on in, the water is fine! Additionally, it looks like the prospect of suffering was part of the prophecy in Timothy’s ordination.

If our dating of New Testament books is correct, then Paul and Timothy had probably read James’ letter to the Church. James 1:2 provides divine perspective on our trials, temptations, and difficulties. But we usually run from suffering rather than embracing it.

And in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he stated his desire to know Christ in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering – see Philippians 3:10. How often do we pray for opportunities to suffer for the King and His Kingdom? And if we prayed for that, would we need someone to call us to courage? Probably!

Fan The Flame – For God’s Purpose

Timothy’s courage to embrace his gifts and calling are according to His (God’s) purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus… God’s grace walks hand-in-hand with God’s purpose. That was true for Paul and I have to believe Timothy knew how Paul’s ministry started.

Paul encountered Jesus on the Damascus road. And when God instructed Ananias to baptize Saul – Acts 9:15-17 – God plainly said He would show Saul (soon to be Paul) what he would suffer for the sake of the Gospel. So Paul’s call to courage was not an abstract idea. It was something he had lived. He was an example of what he called Timothy (and us) to do.

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And that grace thing… I point you to Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Paul prayed three times for God to take away the difficulty. God’s answer? My grace is sufficient for you, (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). So Paul knew from experience that God’s grace would be enough for Timothy as well.

Fan The Flame – Today

So how does this apply to you and me? Let me put it in terms of the rooms in our lives. Our gifts need to be fanned into flame in the board room, the work room, and the class room. How often are we fearful of suffering if we boldly stand for the Gospel in these rooms? I hate to say it, but disciples in today’s classrooms need more courage than ever before. Faith is attacked at every turn. Pray for your students.

But what about the work room and the board room? These are our workplaces. How often has fear silenced our witness because those who could grant a raise or a promotion don’t look favorably on the Gospel? Are you beginning to see how relevant Paul’s call to courage is for every believer? Our fear of suffering shuts our mouths.

Now we’ve seen the what and the why. In the next installment we will examine the how. See you then!

Soli Deo Gloria!  

Keith BurnettRelated Post – Call To Courage: Fan The Flame! 

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