Rekindle the flame

2 Timothy 1:3-7

Paul, the writer of this ancient letter, is approaching the end of his journey. His life’s work is almost done. The task now is to ensure that the next generation of Christians is well prepared to declare and defend the good news of the grace of God, the eternal salvation that comes through Jesus Christ alone.

So Paul writes this letter to Timothy. As he writes, he is chained to the floor. This is no house arrest in his own home. This second imprisonment is tough, degrading, wearing him down.

He’s in a small underground cell with a hole in the roof for light and air. He suffers cold, boredom, loneliness. The food is one star. He awaits trial, and expects death, by beheading. This letter may be his last opportunity to say what needs to be said. This letter is not only for young Timothy; it is Paul’s “last will and testament to the church.”[1]

Paul begins not with a list of all that’s wrong with his world, but by reminding Timothy of his constant prayers for him, and recalling Timothy’s “sincere faith” and godly heritage (vv. 3-5). Then comes a challenge: “Rekindle the gift of God that is in you … for the Spirit of God within you does not make you fearful but gives you power, love, and sound judgment” (v. 7, my paraphrase).

What does it mean to rekindle a gift? The “gift” is a personal ability enhanced or sharpened by divine power and blessing.

For Timothy, judging by chapter 4:14, it probably refers to Timothy’s earlier commissioning for service, or ordination, setting him apart as a teacher or pastor of God’s word for God’s people. It may refer to an evangelistic gift that has been set aside due to urgent and important business (see 4:5).

Whatever the focus, Paul reminds Timothy that God has graciously given him a special enduement or anointing to equip him for the work to which God has called him – spiritual equipping, for the purpose of blessing others.

All of God’s gifts to us, both natural and spiritual, should be welcomed, developed, and deployed. Like muscles, they need exercise.

Paul’s confidence in Timothy is well-founded. He knows of Timothy’s mother’s faith, and his mother’s mother’s faith (v. 5). Paul has observed Timothy in action, and has heard of his character and ministry from others. Good work has been done already, and Paul longs for this to continue, and flourish, and bear fruit.

It’s not just a gift. It’s a gift from God. Timothy’s wisdom, skill, and ability come from God. He can rely on God; he can confidently trust God. There is also a solemn responsibility to obey God’s will and produce fruit for God.

When you and I are tempted to be lazy rather than diligent, or timid instead of courageous, it’s good to remember that everything we have comes from the hand of a gracious God who knows us intimately and gifts us according to his flawless wisdom.

When we face the prospect of suffering, for the sake of righteousness, it’s good to remember that our God is all-powerful, his plans are perfect, and he invites us to trust him and prove him good and true to his word.  

Paul senses that Timothy’s devotion may be faltering, his faith at a low ebb. What once appeared exciting and achievable now threatens to overwhelm. Paul gently challenges Timothy, stirring his flagging passion, reminding him of God’s goodness and love, so that Timothy will be confident and well prepared, eager to serve God in obedience to God’s will, come what may.

What is God’s challenge for you today? What ability do you need to rekindle in 2022? Perhaps there is a latent gift you need to kindle for the first time.

Take heart from these ancient words from Paul’s prison cell as we begin another year together—a challenging, exciting, and rewarding year in the service of God, for his greater glory. Rekindle the gift of God that is in you!

Talk 777 copyright © 2022 Rod Benson. Presented at staff devotions, Moore Theological College, Australia, on 17 January 2022. Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from The Christian Standard Bible (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2020).


[1] John Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy (Leicester: IVP, 1973), 18.

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