2 Timothy is a letter written by Paul around 66 or 67 AD, addressed to Timothy with the intent of encouraging and giving final instructions to his ministry protégé. Paul wrote this letter during his imprisonment in Rome, knowing that he would soon be murdered for his faith. This is important because oftentimes someone’s final worlds are full of wisdom, reflection, and advice. Paul writes this letter in a very personal manner, because of the close relationship that he and Timothy shared. It’s also believed that this is the last letter that Paul ever wrote. So, what would Paul use his final days and words to share with his spiritual son?
Paul begins this letter in the same way that he does many of his letters. He would introduce himself as the author, followed by a greeting for the recipient of his letter. In his opening remarks, Paul tells Timothy that he thanks God for him and that he constantly remembers him in his prayers. He even goes as far to say that he remembers the tears that Timothy had shed as they parted when the two had last seen each other. Paul doesn’t do this to embarrass Timothy but mentions this instance to show how personal their relationship really was. We often think of Paul as this rigid, traditional, almost brute-like tough guy that wouldn’t experience these feelings of sadness. But you find through this chapter and letter the deep, personal connection that Paul had to Timothy and the pain that came from not being able to meet in person again.
Paul then begins to encourage Timothy in verses 5-8. In verse 5, Paul says: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” Paul knew that this genuine and sincere faith that Timothy had was part of a godly heritage that had been passed on to him. His grandmother Lois was the first member of his family to believe in Christ, who shared her faith with her daughter Eunice. Then both of them passed on this Christian background and heritage to Timothy. We know from Acts 16, that Timothy’s father was Greek, meaning a Gentile that didn’t believe in Christ. But this didn’t stop Timothy’s mother and grandmother from raising Timothy to follow the Lord.
Paul continues his encouragement in verse 6 by saying: “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.” The gift that Paul is describing is compared to a fire that Timothy must fan into flame. This passage suggests that the gifts God gives us do not automatically remain strong and vital. The gifts that the Lord gives us must be fueled by God’s grace through our prayers, faith, and obedience to God. Like a muscle being grown by working out, we must continue to exercise our spiritual gifts in order to keep them strong and active in our lives. That way, we can continue to be a blessing to others and use the gifts the way that God intends us to.
Lastly, Paul instructs Timothy in verses 7-8: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.” It seems that a lack of confidence or being too timid was a struggle Timothy had. He didn’t have to rely on his own strength or ability to fulfill the ministry that God had given him. But notice, Paul doesn’t rebuke him or say that Timothy can’t be used by God because of his fear. Rather, Paul encourages him and reminds Timothy of who God is. He says that God has given us a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. Whatever God calls us to do, we have no reason to fear because God doesn’t call us to a task that He won’t equip or empower us for.
So often, we as believers limit what God is able to do through us because of our fear or concern of the unknown. We all face situations where we feel timid or afraid. For some people, it’s speaking in front of others. For others it’s the fear of confrontation or fear of rejection. The first step in dealing with these fears is to know that they aren’t from God. Which is why Paul says that God has not given us a spirit of fear. The second step in dealing with these fears is to know what God has given us. And that’s a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. Today, you don’t have to live in your fear. You can take comfort in the spirit of power, love, and self-discipline that God has given you.