[God] hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. 2 Timothy 1:9
Paul was a father to Timothy. Not his real father but his earthly spiritual father (v. 2) who raised him up in faith along with Timothy’s grandmother Lois and mother Eunice. Paul met Timothy in Lystra (Acts 16) and took young Timothy with him, discipled and mentored him to serve in the ministry of the Gospel. This was a mentoring relationship that would impact the entire world! That’s what God wants from each of us—a ministry that has supernatural, over the top impact.
If our life is going to have the type of impact that God intends (and God does intend for every life to have impact for His glory and His purposes), then we must continually “step it up” in our walk with God. We can never get comfortable or press the “cruise control” button in our spiritual lives. This is exactly the message that Paul is giving to Timothy. Each day we must push to a new level of responsibility in our relationships to God and man. How do we do this? Paul challenges us in three ways to take responsibility for our spiritual growth.
Genuine Faith (v. 5). “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” Paul highlights Timothy’s’ genuine faith in verse 5. Genuine faith is real faith. It’s not the faith of a hypocrite or “all talk and no action” type of a person. For many of us we consider the highlight of our faith in going to church, singing Christian songs, praying and living a clean life. Genuine faith is so much more. It is a life that will go anywhere and do anything for God. Timothy left his family, friends and comfort and entered into world completely hostile to the Gospel message. James stated that real religion or genuine faith is, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world,” (James 1:27). Genuine faith must take up its cross daily and follow Jesus. Genuine faith loses his own life so that he can find real life. Genuine faith takes no thought of tomorrow but lives each day in the present for the glory of God. How about us? Is our faith genuine? Are we taking responsibility for our walk with God and living sacrificially?Genuine Growth (v. 6). “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.” Not one of us has arrived to the place that God wants us to be in service to Him—not even Timothy. Therefore, Paul challenges Timothy to push to the next level in his faith. Paul states that Timothy must “... stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.” We cannot afford to get complacent and passive in our walk with God. We must always push to the next level which means I must be willing to take some risk. Faith is all about risk. God desires great Christians and great Christians must take great risks. Risks in our giving, our witnessing, our loving the unlovely, our parenting, our serving in the church and our neighbors. We must see faith as a verb. Timothy, it’s time to push it up! Stir it up! Move it up! You, Timothy, are responsible for going to the next level. When we neglect this responsibility we end up like Demas in chapter 4 who quit in the middle of his mission for the Gospel. It’s too easy to quit! Our responsibility is to press on and not quit. Don’t do easy! It is our responsibility to stir up our gifts—stay in church, the Word, prayer, fellowship, obedience and take great risks for God!Genuine Power (v. 7). “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Finally, Paul tells Timothy not to walk in a spirit of fear. Certainly there are things that we must fear like grizzly bears, lightning, and other harmful things. But we should not be powered or dominated by fear. Many of us walk around in a spirit of fear. Why? Because we care more about man’s acceptance than God’s rewards. We don’t witness, give, or serve because we fear what man will say, or that I might not have enough money to pay the bills, or that my time will be wasted serving God because then my agenda will be thwarted. God says no! Don’t be powered by fear. Fear power makes us timid and weak. God wants us bold and strong! The spirit of fear is not of God. God’s power is from Him and it resides in love and a sound mind. A sound mind is one that is controlled by the Spirit of God and His Word. A fearful mind is controlled by my flesh and Satan. Are we taking responsibility to walk in the boldness and the power of God?
We have a responsibility to stir up our spiritual growth. God gives us our gifts, time and talents. He provides the hot coals but we must stoke them and start the fire. Stay in God’s Word, pray without ceasing, stay in church and fellowship, commit to serving and obeying God no matter what. Stir it up and watch God work!