If there is anything that we learn from the Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus), it is that even the most faithful servants of the Lord need to be encouraged in their service to Him. Timothy was one of Paul’s most important coworkers, and he is mentioned in almost all of the apostle’s letters. Paul would frequently send Timothy as his emissary (Phil. 2:19–24), but there were apparently occasions when Timothy entertained some self-doubts (1 Tim. 4:12). That God could use such a man to accomplish His purposes is an encouragement to us in our weaknesses, and it also means that we can learn from the exhortations Paul gave Timothy no matter how faithful we have been in our own vocations.
Knowing the trials that accompany fidelity to the gospel, the apostle wants to make sure that after he is gone, Timothy will stand rm for Christ and not capitulate to the ways of the world in the midst of intense suffering (2 Tim. 1:8–12). Therefore, Paul calls upon Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God” in today’s passage, which means that he should continually renew his dependence on the Holy Spirit so as not to fear the enemies of the gospel (vv. 6–7). Because Paul speaks of the gift coming through the laying on of his hands, some commentators believe he is referring to a special endowment given to Timothy for ministry, not the gift of the Spirit that is for all believers. Yet the Greek of verse 6 does not necessarily suggest that the apostle is the agent of the gift that is given, and since power, love, and self-control (v. 7) are all associated with the Holy Spirit’s work (Acts 1:8; Gal. 5:22–23), Paul is more likely talking about the Spirit of God. The apostle mentions the laying on of his hands because Timothy’s conversion, at which he received the Spirit, and his call to ministry, during which he received the laying on of hands, may have occurred at or around the same time.
Paul tells Timothy to “fan into flame” the gift of the Spirit because he knows of the young man’s faith. By faith Timothy is a Christian and by faith he is to continue to “walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16), knowing that the desire to depend upon the Holy Spirit and the power to do so both come from Him. If Timothy continues to rely on the Spirit, he will fulfill his calling with excellence.
It is not by the might or power of human beings but by the might and power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to accomplish all that the Lord has given to us (Zech. 4:6). When we trust in the Spirit we will face the trials of life with courage and even love those who bring us trouble. As we submit to the Holy Spirit we will grow in self-control in all areas of our lives. Do you confess your need for the Spirit and renounce self-reliance every day of your life?