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, 7for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:6-7).
Has your zeal waned? I’m not talking about the normal subsiding of a fervency that first ignites in the heart upon salvation but then matures to a steady fire. I’m talking about the day to day, month to months or year to year faith that, if left untended or un-nurtured, diminishes to an ember, with cold ashes all around. Or the faith that is timid and retiring, waiting for igniting or just fearful.
As we see in the verse above, Paul was urging Timothy to fan into flame his gift (of faith). One who already has a flame doesn’t need someone to urge him to fan it. Only someone who is dimming needs such encouragement. Paul knew this was true of Timothy, so Paul wrote to encourage Timothy to nurture his faith.
The idea is, that Timothy was to use all proper means to keep the flame of pure religion in the soul burning, and more particularly his zeal in the great cause to which he had been set apart. The agency of man himself is needful to keep the religion of the heart warm and glowing. However rich the gifts which God has bestowed upon us, they do not grow of their own accord, but need to be cultivated by our own personal care.
We all need that exhortation. Fan into flame the gift of God.
OK. How? What are the actions we should take when we sense our spiritual walk is slowing?
In the Spurgeon sermon Our Gifts and How to Use Them, we note that to stir up one’s faith requires action. Spurgeon here has some ideas. The following are excerpts from the above link ‘Our Gifts and How to Use Them.’
And this brings us, secondly, to the consideration of HOW WE ARE TO STIR UP OUR GIFTS.
EXAMINE YOUR GIFTS
First, we should do it by examination to see what gifts we really have. There should be an overhauling of all our stores to see what we have of capital entrusted to our stewardship.
STIR UP YOUR GIFTS
The next mode of stirring up our gift is to consider to what use we could put the talents we possess. To what use could I put my talents in my family? Am I doing all I could for the children? Have I labored all I ought for my wife’s conversion; my husband’s conversion? Then about the neighborhood: is there nothing more that I could do for the salvation of my poor godless neighbors?
… Are you doing all you can for Jesus? Come, answer like an honest man! Having done so, I have more for your self-inspection! Will you examine yourself in every relation in which you stand? As an employer, stir up your gift in reference to those you employ; as a servant, stir up the gift towards your fellow servants; as a trader, and stir up your gift in reference to those with whom you come in contact… If our churches were in a right state of spiritual health, men would not first say, “What can I do to make money?” but, “What can I do to serve Christ, for I will take up a trade subserviently to that.”
ACT IN AND THROUGH YOUR GIFTS
But, next, stir it up not merely by consideration and examination, but by actually using it. We talk much of working, but working is better than talking about working. To get really at it, and to do something for soul-winning and spreading abroad the glory of God is infinitely better than planning and holding committees. Away with windbags! Let us get to acts and deeds! … Work, work, and the tool that is blunt will get an edge by being used! Shine and the light you have shall grow in the very act of shining! He who has done one thing will find himself capable of doing two, and doing two will be able to accomplish four; and having achieved the four will soon go on to twelve, and from 12 to fifty! And so, by growing multiples, he will enlarge his power to serve God by using the ability he has.
IMPROVE YOUR GIFT
We have for years endeavored to stir up the young Christians of this congregation to educate themselves. … I think every man ought to feel, “I have been Christ’s man with a talent; I will be Christ’s man with 10 if I can; if now I do not thoroughly understand the doctrines of His gospel, I will try to understand them; I will read, and search, and learn.” We need an intelligent race of Christians, not an affected race of boasters of culture—mental fops who pretend to know a great deal, and know nothing! We need students of the word, adept in theology like the Puritans of old!
PRAY OVER YOUR GIFTS
—that is a blessed way of stirring them up, to go before God and spread out your responsibilities before Him. … It stirs one up to preach with all his might when he has laid before God in prayer, his weakness; and the ability which God has given him, and asked that the weakness may be consecrated to God’s glory, and the ability accepted to the Lord’s praise. Should we not do just the same, whatever our calling is—take it to the Lord and say, “Assist me, great God, to live for You; …
End Spurgeon. Don’t you love his bluntness? ‘Don’t just talk about working, actually work. Away with windbags!’ Lol.
Does the flame of faith in your bosom need fanning? It is not sin, not yet. Fainting youths and weary soldiers give opportunity for stronger brothers to come alongside and exhort and encourage. Perhaps that strong soldier will need fanning one day, and you can return the favor. In addition, we are pitiful human creatures, stained with a sin-drenched mind always attempting to get the better of the Mind of Christ that is given to us. Or, our timid hearts stray to the back of the crowd. Or, our spotted souls seek to grow the spots instead of slay them.
The battle is long and the fight is tiring. It was for Timothy. What a blessing the Bible includes the weaknesses and flaws of our fainting brethren who came before us. See? You’re weak. I’m weak. It happens.
If you need fanning, no matter. Stir up your gifts, the basis is which is the gift of God of faith and repentance, the gift of knowledge of our own sin, and so seek to revive that flame to a burning love giving light and warmth to fellow soldiers and to the cold and wandering lost.