Don’t let caution put your fire out

“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.” — 2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NIV)

Paul loved Timothy and trusted him with the most difficult of tasks. He wrote to the Philippians that of his entire staff, only Timothy was like-minded. Like Paul, Timothy suffered persecution, but it seems to have gotten into his mind.

In his second letter to Timothy, Paul reminded him that the spirit God has given Christians is of power, love, and a sound mind. Power and love don’t regularly fit together in the world. In fact, a most effective way to gain power is to withhold love.

When a person repeatedly suffers rejection or other disappointment, he or she tends to get very cautious about becoming vulnerable again. That has certainly been my weakness. In the face of a major disappointment, I am likely to hold back from anything that seems likely to lead to another similar feeling. That, in turn, makes it hard to be loving in a situation that feels similar.

Perhaps that is what happened to Timothy. Paul had to remind him to stir up his gift. His spiritual gift had become like an ember in the ashes. How do we stir up a fire that’s about to go out? In the natural, a fire needs fuel, heat, and oxygen.

Paul says that the fuel is the spirit that God gave us, not the spirit of timidity that bids to let the fire die. The power of God is supernatural and unlimited. The love of God is unqualified and unrestrained. God’s power and love work together perfectly and inseparably. Love, in fact, is power–the power to continue to love even when that love is met with hostility.

Self-discipline means that the spirit God gives refuses to let any worldly stimulus take control. It does not value the sort of love or other rewards that the world gives. Therefore, the presence of absence of them makes no difference. It is a supernaturally healed, disciplined, and obedient mind. Power, love, and self-discipline, then, provide the fuel, heat, and oxygen needed to return a cooling ember to a roaring fire.

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