Timothy possessed a gift that was always in danger of dimming and dying. To prevent this – this gradual chill towards extinction – his spiritual charisma needed to be fanned into flame.
Whatever this gift was, it enabled Timothy to fulfill his duties as a servant of the word. But having a gift is one thing. Maintaining it, developing it and using it is quite another.
How many a gospel-minister ‘loses his heat’ over the decades. Had we met him at the dawn of his ministry, we would have met a Blaze, a Ministerial Inferno. What the man lacked in finesse, he more than made up for by his sheer zeal. He was “on fire”, they said – and not wrongly – for that is precisely what he was. He was a preacher whose gift was in the full, ferocious flame of good use.
Meet the same man – well, not quite the same man – two decades on. What do you see? Sadly, a cooled, pathetic ember of his former self. What the man has gained in knowledge and experience he has lost in passion. Moreover his preaching, which once was mighty in its handling of the Scriptures, has become weak, tired and shoddy. The explanations that once were so clear, the applications that once were so pointed, the illustrations that once were so vivid, have been replaced by stock evangelical generalities and a few vague ideas. His sermons are like one poorly reheated meal after another.
Dig beneath the surface, you will soon uncover some reasons why. The man has stopped studying, or at least studying long. He has stopped learning. He has stopped reading books. He has stopped attending conferences. He has stopped caring. He has, by neglect, failed to keep his gifts in good order.
Paul did not want Timothy to suffer such a horrible end to his ministry. The Apostle desires that the last stage of Timothy’s ministry should be as strong as the first. He must therefore fan his gift in to flame, presumably by using it constantly and with the utmost devotion. His next sermon should always be his best; at least, he should desire it to be so. He is to preach the Word, not languidly, like the sleepy embers of a fire, but with the full vigour of the Holy Spirit.
A question for you, fellow-preacher. What could you do – today or this week – that would help fan your gift into flame?Tweet