Bible Reading: Isaiah 61:1-3
“That is why I remind you to fan into flame the gracious gift of God, [that inner fire—the special endowment] which is in you through the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination]” [2 Timothy 1:6 Amplified Bible]
Paul specifically encourages Timothy to fan into flame the gift that is within him. Timothy was discouraged and Paul had tried to encourage him not to neglect using his gift. Someone has said that discouragement flourishes in loneliness. It was when Elijah felt that he was alone that he became discouraged and depressed, and God had to remind him that there were still seven thousand people in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal [1 Kings 19:14,18].
Timothy was a single man, facing a difficult task, opposed by false teachers, criticised by believers who thought that he was too young, and missing Paul, his mentor and father figure. Paul had mentioned already Timothy’s tears, and longed to see him [1 Timothy 1:4]. This sense of being alone, coupled with fear [2 Timothy 1:7], struggling with suffering [2 Timothy 1:8-12] and possibly being attracted to the world [implied in 2 Timothy 2:3-4] were quenching Timothy’s passion for Jesus and the fire in his heart. Against this background Paul is constantly trying to encourage him not to give up, and now he encourages Timothy to fan into flame the gift of God within him.
In Indonesia we enjoy eating chicken satay cooked on a charcoal grill. It sometimes appears that the flame and heat are snuffed out but then the satay seller fans the charcoal and the warm glow of the fire returns.
The fire comes as we draw close to Jesus. Jesus drew near to two disappointed disciples on the Emmaus Road. They did not recognise Him but as they walked He opened God’s Word to them, and then He broke bread and gave it to them and their eyes were opened. They said to one another, “Did not our hearts burn within us” [Luke 24:32]. The fire in their hearts had been rekindled as they were with Jesus.
What is the result of the fire going out? It is ashes! Isaiah writes, that God gives “beauty in place of ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness” [Isaiah 61:3].
Has your passion for Christ dimmed and the fire that once burned so brightly been almost extinguished? Would you pray this prayer, which is part of a hymn written by Charles Wesley,
O Thou who camest from above
The pure celestial fire to impart;
Kindle a flame of sacred love
On the mean altar of my heart.
There let it for Thy glory burn
With inextinguishable blaze,
And trembling to its source return
In humble prayer and fervent praise
If you prayed this prayer would you now find a Christian friend and share this with them. It will strengthen you and encourage them.