As a staff, we just finished up “Understanding Spiritual Gifts” and have now moved on to II Timothy, a study we are using this year to teach during our Wednesday evening program called T.T.C. (Treasure Trust Club). I would like to write about this week’s lesson, a lesson that I am about to teach in a couple of hours.
During our meetings, we have already taken a look at what we learn about Paul and what we learn about Timothy, from II Timothy. After doing that, we took a look at the specific commands that Paul wrote to Timothy and why he had to write them. Now we are going to take a look at the gift of God and how it corresponds to overcoming fear. Timothy, like all of us, had a spirit of fear. When we begin to serve the Lord with the gift that He has given to us, we are immediately faced with fear, from without and within. In order to overcome that fear, God has instructed us in His Word. Let’s see what we can learn.
I. Exercise your gift
Timothy was a young man when Paul found him and began to mentor him. This was significant because Timothy had been trained, spiritually speaking, by his mother and grandmother. Timothy’s father was an unbeliever. Paul took Timothy under his wing and began to mentor him, training him to serve accord to the spiritual gift that was in him. As Timothy began to serve, he was afraid. He had a spirit of timidity. He needed encouragement and Paul offered it. One of the ways that Paul encouraged Timothy was to show him how to discover his spiritual gift and serve accordingly. Paul did not give a spiritual gift to Timothy when he laid hands on him. All Paul did was recognize and acknowledge what was already there. God gives the gifts to us when we receive the Holy Spirit. Timothy already had both. Paul just taught him to discover what was already there and serve accordingly. Another way that Paul encourages Timothy is by reminding him that when God gives us His Spirit, It is not a spirit of timidity (fear). Instead, It is a Spirit of power, love, and discipline. The discipline is important because we need discipline in stirring up the gift that God has given to us. To stir up literally means to poke a dwindling fire. To agitate the embers and bring it back to life. The gift that God has given to us is to be used in serving Him by serving the people around us. If we use it, it will grow. We will mature. It is like a body builder who builds up his muscles. The moment he stops, those well defined muscles begin to atrophy. When you do not employ your spiritual gift in serving others, instead of growing you to maturity, your walk with the Lord begins to atrophy. Timothy needed to be reminded to stir up that gift in service and Paul encourages him to do so. Why would anyone have a desire to stop serving according to the gift of God that He has given to them? The text tells us and if you have ever served in the ministry then you already know; obstacles and opposition.
II. Use your gift to overcome obstacles
It is hard to serve the Lord because when you teach people God’s Word, you are putting them face to face with God and His principles prick our sin nature. There are several responses that people offer when their sin nature is pricked. One is opposition. They can get down right mean with you because you are the one who put them face to face with God’s principles that pricked them. They cannot lash out at God and do any damage so they look to lash out at the messenger. Jesus told us that this would happen and it does, if you are teaching God’s Word as It is presented in the Bible. There will also be obstacles that will tempt you to stop serving according to your gift. It is time consuming and there is an enemy who does not want you to serve God by serving the people around you. He does not want you to use God’s Word to prick people’s sin nature. He wants you to be content being served instead of serving. So, what do I do when I am afraid because of obstacles and angry people?
preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. (II Timothy 4:2)
Don’t stop preaching the Gospel!!! Continue to teach the Word of God and use It to reprove (show people where they are wrong) and to rebuke (correct them) as well as to exhort (comfort as you help them improve). Retain the standard that the Gospel sets and do not lower it to keep people happy or from running away. These are hard things to do because our human nature wants everyone to like us. It helps when we have examples to look to during the difficult times and that is why Paul uses himself as an example for Timothy.
III. Learn from the positive examples of others
Timothy had traveled with Paul on his second missionary journey and had seen first hand how Paul preached the Gospel, faced overwhelming obstacles, and much opposition. What did Paul do in the midst of all of this? He continued to preach and teach the Word of God, especially as It pricked the sin nature of the audience. This is why Paul reminds Timothy
for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. (II Timothy 1:11)
Timothy knew these things about Paul because he had witnessed Paul in action. Paul just reminds Timothy of how he preached and taught the Word in order to plant and establish new churches all over Asia Minor and Greece. Timothy had seen Paul overcome and he knew that he could overcome as well because the same Holy Spirit that was in Paul was also in Timothy to give him the necessary power, love, and discipline. He had the power. He had the love for the people around him and he had the discipline to continue on, even in the midst of heavy persecution.
What about you my friend, have you received a spiritual gift from the Lord? If not, you need to be born again so that you can receive the Holy Spirit and the gift that comes with Him. Are you using your gift to serve the Lord by serving the people around you? How do you respond when you face obstacles? How do you respond when you have opponents because you are pricking their sin nature with the Word of God? Do you have a mentor who you are learning from and looking to as an example? May the Lord help us all stir up the gift of God that is in us by using it to serve Him by serving the people around us.