Fanning the flame of courage

In 2 Timothy 2:6 Paul tells Timothy, his child of the faith, that he is to “fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”

What is the gift that Timothy is to fan into flame?  And how is he to fan this gift into flame?  Paul never tells us explicitly what this gift is but there are many clues in this letter that lead us to a clear picture.Let’s take these questions one at a time.

What is the gift that Timothy is to fan into flame?

In verse 7, Paul reminds Timothy the Spirit that now dwells in him is not one of fear but of power, love, and self-control.  Then Paul tells Timothy not to be ashamed that he (Paul) is suffering.  At the end of the chapter Paul reminds Timothy of Onesiphorus who was not ashamed of the gospel or of Paul and was willing to be identified with him in Rome.  There are many other clues but it seems that the gift Paul is encouraging Timothy to fan into a flame is courage and strength in the gospel.  He wants Timothy to be bold in his faith and not be ashamed of suffering or the thought of suffering.

How does one fan into the flame this gift of courage? 

Again, Paul does not give any explicit steps here.  He does not give a five step method to a more courageous life.  But he does tell Timothy in verse 13 to “follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”  It seem that Paul is saying saying there is a connection to fanning the flame and obedience to God’s Word.  Then in chapter 2:1 Paul tells Timothy to be strengthened by the grace of Christ Jesus.  Paul began his letter in chapter 1:2 by saying “grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”  It seems that Paul is saying that as you read this letter Timothy, may God’s grace be with you.  Therefore in 2:1 when he says be strengthened by the grace of Christ Jesus, I believe Paul is encouraging Timothy to let the Words of God in this letter strengthen him.  Meaning, Timothy, believe in these words which are actually coming from God, not me.  What I find interesting is that right after Paul tells Timothy to be strengthened he then goes on into the second chapter exhorting Timothy how to live.  For example in verses 3-5 he tells Timothy to be like a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer.  The point is, Timothy is not to go sit in a room, read God’s Word, wait to be strengthened and then go live out that strength.  Rather, Timothy will be strengthened as he faithfully reads God’s Word and lives obediently as God has called him to.

So what does all this mean today?  

To begin with, 2 Timothy was not written only for Pastors.  It’s not only pastors who have been given the gift of courage.  It’s not only pastors who are not to be ashamed of suffering for the gospel.  Timothy is an example of a believer who is struggling to live by faith in a hostile world.  He very much realizes that the world opposes Christianity outside and even inside the church.    And this is very much the same situation we find ourselves in today.  A Christian who truly lives out their faith in this world will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12).  The Christian life is not an easy life, but it is hard and costly.  So, let us all realize that we need to fan the flame of courage in our life.

  • We do this by trusting in God’s Word and faithfully seeking to obey it.
  • We do this by looking back at the cross and reminding ourselves that Jesus is the one who went to the cross and abolished death and brings life (2 Tim 1:10).
  • We do this by looking at other Christians who have gone before us living faithful and obedient lives (2 Tim 1:15-18).
  • We do this remembering that even if we suffer and are bound in chains, the gospel is unable to be bound and it will continue to spread throughout this world (2 Tim 2:8-9).
  • We do this knowing that God is faithful to Himself and therefore all who have given their lives and endured hardship for His glory will reign with Him forever (2 Tim 2:11-13).