Summary: This is the beginning of a message series out of II Timothy in which Paul encourages Timothy to fan into flame his gift of ministry.
How To Become An Effective Christian
“Fan The Flame!”
He was a man who was letting go of his life. He sat in a jail cell, resembling more of a dungeon than a cell. It was poorly lit. It was cold and damp. He was chained to the wall and waiting…waiting to die. His execution was imminent and he was lonely. As his thoughts began to wander, they centered on his close friend. His friend had been more like a son to him really and they had shared many experiences, both good and bad, together. The last image he had of his friend was of him weeping. His friend had been so saddened by his departure. He didn’t want him to leave. Now, as he sits in his cell, he too longs to see his friend once more. He sits down and decides to write his friend a letter. It would be a letter in which he would pour out his heart to his friend; telling him how much he loved him, encouraging him, building him up and informing him that he is now in charge of the work that they had shared together. It’s time for his friend to take over and the work must not fail. The man writing the letter is the apostle Paul. His friend is Timothy.
II Timothy is such a dynamic letter. It is so authentic and genuine. Paul had been recently arrested in Rome under the orders of the Emperor, Nero. During Nero’s reign as emperor of Rome, he took great delight in the persecution and killing of Christians. Nero would be responsible for the deaths of both the apostle Paul and of Peter. This letter is written shortly before Paul’s death. So often we hear of people saying that they never got the chance to tell a loved one everything they wanted to tell them and how they cared about them before that person died. Paul wants to make sure he tells Timothy everything on his heart while he still has the chance.
More than anything, the letter of II Timothy is a changing of the guard. Paul passes on the torch of ministry to Timothy. One of the great spectacles of the Olympic Games is the passing of the torch. Just this year, the United States was able to experience the Winter Olympics and thousands of people had the opportunity to run with the torch and pass it on to another until it reached the site of the Games in Salt Lake City. The passing is symbolic. One person has fulfilled their duties and responsibilities and now those same duties and responsibilities are passed on to the next person and so on and so on until the work is completed. Paul has finished his turn of carrying the torch of the gospel of Christ. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” II Timothy 4:7 Now it is Timothy’s turn to carry the torch and finish his leg of the race.
This message series that will take us through the whole letter of II Timothy is entitled “How To Become An Effective Christian”. Paul’s words to Timothy were filled with principles and sound, proven advice on how Timothy could be the most effective leader and Christian he could be. Like Timothy, we are currently taking our turn at running with the torch of the gospel of Christ. We need to hear Paul’s words and apply them to our lives so that we can be effective in our service to God.
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 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.” II Timothy 1:1-7
Our emphasis tonight centers around Paul’s words in verse six in which he tells Timothy to “fan into flame” the gift that he has received from God. Scholars have debated what this gift was and it is commonly accepted that Timothy had a gift for ministry. He was capable of starting churches, teaching, preaching and evangelizing. Paul’s message to Timothy is to fully express his gift, not hold anything back, in his work for Christ.