Summary: Spiritual growth is ignited by passion, fuelled by the power of God, and sustained by self-discipline.
Central Verses: 1:6-7
Behavioural goal: The listener will set a growth goal for the coming months and pursue it.
Last Sunday many of you heard a message from Psalm 90 on making your life count. I want you to think way back to that time to reflect for a moment. Did it make any difference in your life at all? Did it made you think about your life any time after Sunday morning? Perhaps you strengthened your resolve to do or get back to daily devotions, or you took a new look at your schedule. Maybe you hugged your child or spouse or parent. Maybe you changed your schedule in some small way, or did one small act of service or deepened an eternal priority in your mind. Perhaps you found victory over a sin. If there was one change in your life that you could put a finger on, however small, spell it out in a sentence in your mind.
For those who can pinpoint something, I commend you. I know I’ve heard many of my own messages that I couldn’t even remember the day after!
But for those of us for whom it made not even a fraction of a difference. Why not? There could be some really valid reasons -- like you weren’t here. Or, perhaps I wasn’t very clear, or your child was acting up, or God is working on some other area of your life. Or maybe your learning style doesn’t do well with this sort of message. The question is, are you making any effort to grow?
Some reasons for not growing may not be quite so honorable. It never occurrs to some people that coming to church should change anything in their lives. Maybe you’re not in growth mode, and no learning style would excite you. Maybe, you’ve cooled off on this growth idea, and you’ve become comfortable exactly where you are. Maybe your priorities are in every other direction.
I want to call us all to look at our growth attitude. Are we even thinking about it? Are we growing a little, or a lot?
The truth is, most forms of growth in our lives are initially unpleasant. They’re a little like hiking up a mountain. It takes quite a lot to get started and the uphill climb takes plenty of energy. It’s when you look back from a much higher altitude, that you really come to see that it was worth it.
This morning we’re looking at a letter sent from a veteran to a young leader. The veteran, you may know as the apostle Paul. He commissioned Timothy, the young pastor, to serve in Ephesus.
Paul’s writings reveal a man who did not seem to struggle much with lack of motivation. He seemed to me to be a "Type A" personality -- the driven sort who was continually on the move.
When he couldn’t be there he burned the midnight oil writing letters. He was anxious to use every opportunity given him. Where he ran into opposition, he usually turned it into an occasion for celebration. When he attracted trouble, lesser people scattered and ran.
Timothy? I think he was a little more like the rest of people. The world could have never handled two "Pauls"! Timothy was probably a little more laid back, ready to settle into one place. He seemed not to be energized by huge challenges and difficulties -- he would rather stay low. Timothy had a tendency to coast and back off rather than set goals and attack. His growth, at least in one area, had stalled.
As different as they were, Paul was crazy about his student. Paul saw the potential and he invested heavily and personally to bring out the best in Timothy. In light of their personal friendship he will give his young friend a hot spark of encouragement, which may seem to be aimed dead centre at many of us:
2Tim 1:6-7: 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 did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (NIV).
In fact, before we get much further, I want you to personalize this to see if it fits. Where it says, "You", add your name. I want you to think of your spiritual history with others who have helped you along the way. Then I want you to fill in your name with this paraphrase, as if Paul were addressing you:
"Because of those dear nurturing believers in your life, I remind you, _____________ to fan into flame the gift of God given to you, _______________. For God did not give you, ________________, a spirit of inadequacy, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."