gratitude & hoopla: Fan it!

gratitude & hoopla

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

22.5.06

Fan it!

Today I want to take a look at the imperative statements in 2 Timothy 1. This epistle is above all a mentoring letter. Paul, Timothy's mentor, is pouring out his final instruction and encouragement, quite as if there was no tomorrow. With a tone of urgency, he repeats to his son in the faith certain fundamentals, summoning him again to the fullness of his calling as a minister of the Word. I thought it would be instructional to list some of these imperatives of Paul to Timothy in this first chapter (and one from the second).

Imperative #1: 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.
The "reason" alluded to here, by the way, was Paul's assurance that the gift of faith dwelt in Timothy. Timothy, Paul is certain, is a man of sincere faith. Therefore, he says, fan into flame the gift of God in you, for after all you have no reason to fear, since you have been given a spirit of power and love and self-control. Note: Paul justifies his imperative to fan the gift of God into flame by saying, I know your sincere faith. In faith, then, fan your gift into flame. Although the world may give you cause to fear the bold display of your faith, God has given you such things as make fear and timidity seem foolish and immature: power, love, and self-control. So fan it!
Imperative #2: Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God...
One senses that Timothy may have suffered at times from fear and timidity. So Paul enjoins him, since after all you have been given a spirit of power, love, and self control, you needn't be ashamed of the testimony that it is your burden to preach. Be bold and up front about the Gospel, he seems to be saying. You have nothing to fear, and nothing to be ashamed of.
Imperative #3: Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
As Timothy's mentor, Paul had left Timothy a pattern to follow. The pattern is "sound." Just as Paul, way back at verse 1, had described his ministry as being "in accord with the promise that is in Christ Jesus," here he says that the pattern or model which his life represents to Timothy (and to us) is characterized by "the faith and love that is in Christ Jesus." Paul is always keenly aware that his ministry is all about being "in Christ" and what that really means.
Imperative #4: By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
That deposit which has been entrusted to Timothy is, I surmise, the "testimony" mentioned back in verse 8. There the imperative was "do not be ashamed of it." Here, "guard it." It is the testimony about Jesus Christ, the very content of all Christian ministry. Paul had summarized it at verse 10: "... which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." Guard that. Guard it by the Holy Spirit.
In summary, then, these 4 imperatives amount to a recommissioning of Timothy to ministry. Let it be so also with us. Let Paul address you, Believer. He says, "I know of your faith. Therefore, in faith fan into flame the gifts that God has given you. Don't be ashamed to speak out and walk out what the Father has deposited in you. Follow the pattern of Godly teachers and mentors, and guard the testimony that has been entrusted to you, guard its core truths about Jesus, even if you have to suffer for them. Though others may fall away, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus (imperative #5).

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