This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So you must never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord... With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the proclamation of the Good News. — 2 Timothy 1:6-8
There’s a tendency among believers to place the heroes of the faith on pedestals that they, the heroes, would never have mounted. This is especially true of the heroes of the faith whose lives are recorded in the Bible. While we incline to think of these biblical heroes as always on top of their game, the Scriptures go to great lengths to show that, in actuality, they suffered from the same kinds of discouragement, disappointment, disillusionment, and dysfunction as we. The value of these men and women to us is not to be found in their exemption from the ills that trouble us, but rather in seeing the ways in which they handled them and lived well through them.
Take Timothy, for example. Timothy was a protégé of the great apostle Paul, who spoke in the most affectionate terms about the young man. But that did not stop the apostle from identifying potential problems in Timothy’s life and speaking about them firmly and lovingly. So he wrote in his letter to Timothy, “I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you” (2 Timothy 1:6).
Apparently, even Timothy was capable of allowing his divine calling and enabling to lapse into a smoldering rather than a blazing condition. Paul added, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (1:7). Timothy lived in tough times, and Paul expected that they would get worse (and he was right!). So it was understandable if Timothy, like most normal people, experienced pangs of trepidation when he considered his calling and the environment in which he was to live it out. Perhaps Timothy’s timidity was most obvious in his apparent reluctance to speak openly about Christ. So Paul reminded him, “You must never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord” (1:8).
It is important to note that Paul was not simply giving Timothy a rah-rah pep talk. He also was reminding him of fundamental spiritual principles that Timothy needed to apply in order to live well in his natural difficulties. He was reminding Timothy of “the spiritual gift God gave [him],” of “the faith and love that [he had] in Christ Jesus,” and particularly of “the help of the Holy Spirit who lives within us” (1:13-14).
This biblical hero, Timothy, was not a hero because he was immune to fear and oblivious to danger. He was a hero because he suffered as normal people suffer and through the power of divine enabling in the Holy Spirit he was able “to hold on” and ultimately triumph. We all can do that.
For further study: 2 Timothy 1:1-14
Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.