“And for this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 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...” (2 Tim. 1:6-8).
Timothy possessed a gift. We do not know specifically what the gift consisted of. Perhaps it was simply his gift of preaching the gospel, thought possibly it was a miraculous spiritual gift. Even the possession of a gift of miraculous power did not mean that it would always be used to the fullest. Timothy needed to “stir up the gift of God”—that is, to “re-kindle” or “fan into flame” the fire which had been kindled in his heart.
Why would Timothy need this kind of exhortation? Paul earlier wrote to him: “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you” (1 Tim. 4:14). Perhaps Timothy failed to use his gift to the fullest. Perhaps he became discouraged because of the difficulty of the work, and disappointed with the results that his efforts seemed to produce. Perhaps his fears were hindering him. And perhaps none of these causes was present in Timothy. Yet Paul knew that Timothy, like all of us, needed to be encouraged.
Certainly this young servant of Christ would have adequate cause for great fear. He had seen Paul, his father in the faith, battered and broken and bleeding as he was stoned by the Judaizers outside the gates of Lystra. His Lord had been crucified on a cross by Roman soldiers who were still ready to put down any undue excitement and who would brook no hostility in the first-century world. Paul, in fact, at the very time he wrote this letter, was imprisoned in
Timothy needed to be reminded to kindle afresh the gift of God. He needed to remember that God has not given us a “spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” Then Paul challenges Timothy: “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me his prisoner” (vs. 8). Timothy must resist the temptation of being ashamed of bearing testimony for his Lord. Even though Paul was at that time languishing in a Roman prison, still Timothy must not be ashamed. “Rather,” says Paul, “you must heroically take your share of the afflictions of the gospel.”
We need the same reminders. We, too, may be tempted to hide or neglect our gifts and talents through fear, boredom, or even temporary doubts. We might be like the one-talent man who was afraid and went and hid his talent in the ground (Matt. 25). Like Timothy, we need the reminder to re-kindle our gifts and talents. Like a fire that has burned low but has not gone out, it needs attention. Use a poker or bellows to turn the embers into a blaze. Study about your responsibilities, consider the great needs that the Lord wants you to serve, pray about it, and get busy using the gifts and talents that God has blessed you with.
Sometimes we just need to be “stirred up” (2 Pet. 1:13; 3:1). Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel” (Rom. 1:16). Jesus declared, "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels" (Mark 8:38). "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27).
Like Timothy, we must face our fears, and with the Lord’s help, we will conquer them. We all wrestle with our haunting fears: fear of not being accepted by the majority; fear of ridicule or rejection; fear that if we stand for what is right, our friends might turn against us. But we must have courage. Let us never be ashamed, or afraid, or embarrassed to stand for what is right, to speak what is right, to do what is right.