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I took three semesters of New Testament Greek while studying at Harding University – School of Biblical Studies. One of my fondest memories is of a road trip I took with a brother in Christ, a drive from Arkansas to Kansas and back. I don’t recall the purpose of the trip, but what I do recall is that rather than listen to the radio, we opted to use our time on the road to translate the book of Colossians. (Remember that, Smokey?)
I’m sure our translational work was lacking in many respects, and laughable to genuine translational scholars, but the point is, we did it. We were able to do it. Now? Not so much.
Just recently, I purchased Jonathan Kline’s Keep Up Your Biblical Greek in Two Minutes a Day. As I work through it each morning, I see how woefully inadequate my translational abilities have become through non-use. It is going to take genuine effort to get them back to the level they once were.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
– 2 Timothy 1:6-7, ESV
The Gift Needs Stirring/Fanning to Flame
Note what the apostle Paul is saying and not saying to Timothy. Paul is not directing Timothy to pursue new spiritual gifting, but rather to stir afresh what is already there, to rekindle the flames of his gifting. Over the years, I have worked with believers who obsess over chasing newer and better gifts, all the while neglecting the gifts already within them.
Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. – 1 Timothy 4:14, ESV
Neglecting our gifts causes them to atrophy. The Spirit of God does not leave us (John 14:16), but neglecting the spiritual gift within us will cause its flame to wane, and to need “kindling afresh.” Remember, friend, it is possible both to grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) and to quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
The Gift is Not Timid
for God gave us a spirit not of fear – 2 Timothy 1:7a, ESV
The word for fear, δειλιος (deilios), signifies something along the lines of timidity or cowardice, rather than terror. Just as our spiritual gifting can atrophy, it is equally useless if we are too timid or cowardly to use it.
The Gift is Not Power, but it Comes With Power
It is easy to confuse the gift with the power. The gift is not power, but the spiritual gift comes with power. It is enhanced by power. It comes with everything we need to put the gift to effective use.
God has given us not a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of δυναμις (dunamis), power! This is the word from which we derive our term “dynamite.” That’s power, folks! Light that fuse and fan that flame. Let loose the spiritual power within you.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. – Romans 12:11, NIV-1978
Power and timidity polar opposites, as are power and cowardice.
The Gift is Not Love, but it Comes With Love
The gift also comes with love. As with the power, so it is with love. Love is not the gift, but the gift comes with love. The fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 5:22).
Love regulates our gifting because, without love, we fall to the temptation to misuse the gifts, to distort them, and use them for personal glory and fulfillment. We go the way of Diotrephes who advanced himself and despised authority (3 John 1:9).
Love is the perfect answer to timidity and cowardice, because “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).
The Gift is Not Self-Control, but it Comes With Self-Control
The gift is not self-control, but the gift comes with self-control, and self-control regulates the gift. As with love, self-control, σωπφρονισμου (sophronismou), is fruit of the Spirit. It is a combination term, melding two verbs, to save and to control, thus safe control, or even control that saves. Whatever the case, with power, love, and safe control, believers can radically transform the world in which we live.
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. – 1 Peter 4:10, NIV-1978
Blessings upon you.
Victoriously in Christ!
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