This reference and preceding verses seem to indicate that Paul was unsatisfied with Timothy’s current level of unfaithfulness (see v.7). “Fan into flame” means literally “to keep the fire alive.” The “gift” here refers to a believer’s spiritual gift…
Timothy’s particular gift was leadership with special emphasis on preaching (2 Tim. 4:2) and teaching (1 Tim. 4:6, 11, 13 6:2). This gift was identified by revelation from God (1 Tim.1:18) and apostolic confirmation (2 Tim. 1:6), likely when Timothy joined Paul on the Apostle’s second missionary journey (Act 16:1-3 1 Tim. 4:14).
Yet it is essential to recognize that all believers have gifts according to the grace given to them (to us) by God through the Holy Spirit, undeserved and unmerited (Rom. 12:6), and each according to the MEASURE OF FAITH God has assigned (Rom. 12:3).
This MEASURE OF FAITH means the correct proportion of the spiritual gift–the supernatural endowment and ability–the Holy Spirit gives each believer (1 Pet. 4:10) so that he may fulfill his role in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:7, 11).
IMPORTANT: “Faith” here is not saving faith, but rather faithful stewardship, the kind, and quality required to use one’s own particular gift. Every believer receives the exact award and necessary resources to fulfill his or her role in the body of Christ (cp. 1 Cor. 12:7, 11).
Back to Paul’s exhortation to Timothy…Timothy–and all believers– are to “fan into flame” (i.e. “keep the fire alive”) concerning the gifts of God.
v.7 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (as opposed to the demonic spirit of slothfulness, for example).
1. POWER God has already given believers all the spiritual resources that they need for every trial and threat (Mt. 10:19-20). Divine power–effective, productive spiritual energy–belongs to believers (Eph. 1:18-20 3:20 cp. Zech. 4:6).
2. LOVE Love for God and others needs no elaboration.
3. SELF-CONTROL This refers to a self-controlled and properly prioritized mind. This is the opposite of the fear and apathy that causes disorder and confusion. Focusing on the sovereign nature and perfect purposes of our eternal God allows believers to control their lives in every situation Rom. 12:3 1 Tim. 3:2 Tit. 1:8 2:2). Read Titus 1:8 and 2:2 to see a connection with discipline and steadfastness.
***This small treatment on self-control resulted from an ongoing discussion I have been having with a friend, who primarily seeks for miraculous empowerment to do the work of God (or any responsible work for that matter), similar to that experienced by the prophets when they were compelled by God to do His work. My friend, who is a great person and a remarkably knowledgeable Christian, struggles in one particular area–slothfulness–and, sadly, he is attempting to justify his slothfulness with Scripture in this instance.
God gave me this message to share with my friend and other believers who may not know that they already have the power to do all that God requires of them–God Himself has given them the power!
When you are sitting on the couch, eating potato chips and vegging on some TV program you probably should not be watching…you will sometimes hear two voices in your mind: one voice will be telling you to get up and do something for the Kingdom of God (this could be as simple as turning off the TV and picking up the Bible, spending time with your children, doing yard work, etc.). The other voice will be telling you to “enjoy your show–you deserve a little downtime,” “you can read your Bible later,” “whatever it is, it can wait,” et al. Only one of those two voices is from God! And I don’t have to tell you which one because the truth is written on your hearts.
Dr. D.E. Steilman, Th.D.