Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

The Bible teaches us that when God calls us to serve as Christ’s witnesses, He does not leave us destitute of resource to accomplish His will. Each believer is given at least one spiritual gift by God to be used for His glory and build up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:7, 12; 1 Cor. 12:7). We are to be good stewards of the manifold resources which God has given to us.

With this in mind, Paul exhorts Timothy to “stir up the gift of God” that is in him. This “gift” (charisma) that was graciously afforded to him by God was associated with the laying of Paul’s hands on Timothy. 1 Timothy 4:14 adds that the presbytery joined Paul in laying their hands on Timothy. This “laying of hands” is thus the ordination ceremony of Timothy. During the ceremony, prophecy was pronounced to confirm his gift publicly (c.f. 1 Tim. 4:14). This gift would thus be the pastoral and administrative ability given to him by God to fulfil God’s call for him in looking after God’s flock in the church of Ephesus. The ordination ceremony was thus a recognition that Timothy possessed the required gift to oversee the church of Ephesus on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Basis for Stirring Up
Timothy must thus bear two things in mind. Firstly, as a man of unfeigned faith (v.5), he must remember the salvation grace of God and strive to render his best as his reasonable service to Christ. Secondly, God had clearly indicated the area of service for Timothy and has given him the resource to accomplish His will. Therefore, Timothy must not “neglect the gift” (1 Timothy 4:4) that was given to him by God but “stir” it up constantly for the sake of Christ.

The expression “stir up” (anazōpureō) can also be rendered as “constantly kindle”. The picture here is the constant stirring of a flame so that it does not die out. This speaks of the responsibility which Timothy has towards the gift which God has given to him. He was not to rest on his laurels but be constantly at work in exercising his gift to magnify Christ’s name. As the pastor of Ephesus, he can-not be slack in this aspect for what is at stake are the souls of men – the flock of God which Christ has purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Timothy must continue doing what he has been doing, “for soon Paul will be removed from the scene and Timothy will no longer be an assistant but the head in Ephesus.” (Kent)

The same principle applies to all Christians. We too must stir up the gifts which God has given to us. How then are we to stir up these gifts?

 Know your gift. When we meditate upon God’s Word and strive to obey Him in all that we do, God will show us step-by-step what He has called us to do. Pray sincerely that the Lord will reveal what gifts He has given you to be used for His glory.

Serve fervently. Once you know your gift and place of service, serve with all your might that God may be glorified. Learn from the example of Christ: “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” (John. 4:34) Let us then be “not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord”. (Romans 12:11)

 Serve humbly. The purpose of spiritual gifts is to build up the church of God (Eph. 4:12). There are diversities of gifts, yet one body of Christ. Use your gift therefore to the edification of others (see 1 Cor. 12). Paul writes in Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

The Hindrance to Stirring Up
One hindrance to stirring up our gifts is the lack of courage. The term “fear” (delias) in verse 7 refers to a timid and cowardly fear of people and circumstances. As the pastor of the Ephesian Church, Timothy would meet with many tribulations, persecutions and accusations. There would be attacks from within and without the church. Remember, Timothy was serving at a time when Nero was the Emperor, and Christians were severely persecuted by the Roman Empire. Moreover, Timothy was a young man with respect to the pastoral ministry (1 Tim. 4:12; 2 Tim 2:22) and often suffered from physical ailments (1 Tim. 5:23). The pressure on Timothy must have been tremendous.

Amid such difficulties, Timothy must not allow himself to be cowed. He should remember his calling and the promise that God will provide all the necessary resource for him to overcome these difficulties. He must not be timid.

We too will face difficulties in our respective areas of service. The spiritual wickedness in this world will do its best to corrupt the testimony of Christ. It will employ fear to intimidate us, such as the loss of family, wealth, health or life. We must not let the fear tear us away from our trust in God’s ability and readiness to help us in our service for Him. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10:28)

The Way to Stir Up
How then should we overcome this spirit of timidity? By relying on God’s Word and His Holy Spirit! God’s Spirit does not produce cowardice, but results in the following:

Power (dunamis). This refers to the power given by God to live a holy life and accomplish His will. When we submit ourselves to the Spirit, we will be able to experience what it means for God to be able “to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us”. (Eph. 3:20)

Love (agapē). This refers to a selfless and volitional love that seeks the best for the one who is loved. Christ demonstrated this love by coming into this world as a man to suffer and die for our sins. This is also the love that ought to be present in the lives of every believer.

There are two aspects of love which the Christian will possess. Firstly, he loves God, and will seek to obey God’s Word. Secondly, his love for God will lead him to love fellow men. “ Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40)

This is the love which Timothy is required to demonstrate in the pastoral min-istry. He must love God and love God’s people. Similarly, we must all serve constrained by the love of Christ (2 Cor. 5:14) When we do so, we will be patient while facing difficult circumstances or people.

Sound mind (sōphronismos). This refers to a man with self-discipline and control. He lives an orderly life, with every aspect of his conduct directed by the heavenly wisdom of the Holy Scriptures. When a person walks in the Spirit, he will not walk in confusion, but will be able to order every part of his life and service according to God’s holy will.

Dear brethren, what is the gift that God has bestowed upon you? Stir up that gift for the Lord’s glory! Do not hide behind your fear but embrace the task which God has set before you, for God has granted you every resource to accomplish His will. When we walk in His will, His Spirit will grant you (1) the power to be effective in His service; (2) the love of Christ, so that we may have the right motive and attitude towards service; (3) a sound mind; so that we may be disciplined to order ourselves wisely and honourably in the service of the Lord. May the Lord find us faithful till the end.

Yours affectionately,
Preacher Clement Chew