2 Timothy 1
Sunday, September 11, 2022
The pale princess cowered in the corner of her frigid room. Though she had been living a solitary life for many years for fear of people discovering her secret, Elsa was now summoned from her self-imposed prison for her coronation.
“Conceal; don’t feel. Put on a show. Make one wrong move and everyone will know…”
If you’ve seen the movie Frozen, you know that Elsa had some sort of mystical power that could create and manipulate snow and ice. She had hidden it for a long time, but a stressful situation at the coronation event caused her to lose self-control, divulging her secret to her entire kingdom and initiating an eternal winter in her kingdom. Afraid that people might turn on her, Elsa abdicated her right to the throne by escaping to the mountains to “let it go”, seemingly embracing newfound freedom resulting from the revelation of her secret. The story continues with ups and downs, laughter and sadness; however, at the end of the movie, Elsa discovers that the way to control her powers is not fear, but rather love!
What does this have to do with 2 Timothy 1, you ask? Well, in this letter (which is believed by many scholars to be the last correspondence that Paul penned before his death), Paul is reaching out to his young protege, Timothy. He wants to remind Timothy of the gift of his salvation, and give him some warning and encouragement for the trials that are yet to come as a follower of Jesus.
Paul begins by reminding Timothy where his salvation journey began, being taught by his grandmother and mother. Paul then reminds Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God” (verse 6). Elsa squelched her gift, but that is not the way God wants us to live in regards to our salvation. God gave Timothy, and us, a free gift of salvation, and He desires for us to fan it into flame! God longs for us to embrace His gift, to share it with others. What happens to a fire when you fan it, blow on it, nurture it? The fire grows! If you want to have a fire to keep you warm while you’re camping, you have to tend to the fire: replenishing wood as it burns down, blowing oxygen into it to get the fire rolling again, etc. Likewise, we need to actively be nurturing our gift of salvation, tending to our relationship with God each day, and sharing that gift with others, rather than hiding our gift like Elsa did.
At the conclusion of the movie, Elsa is elated to learn that love, rather than fear, is the best way to manage her powers. Verse 7 continues, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” God’s design does not include us living in a constant state of fear. When we accept His gift, we receive the power of the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. In fact, we normally think of hate being the opposite of love (and sometimes it is), but scripture also indicates that fear and love are opposites (“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” I John 4:18). Paul wanted to remind Timothy to not focus on fear in the difficult times ahead, as God’s gift does not include fear; rather, focus on power (the Holy Spirit), love (God IS love – see I John 4:8), and self control (a fruit of the Spirit, along with love, that is produced in our lives when we are seeking Him).
In verse 8, Paul advises Timothy to not be ashamed to be a follower of Jesus, but to be ready to suffer for the gospel “by the power of God.” God’s power is promised to us even through the suffering, because we were saved and “called to a holy calling”. Just like Elsa’s powers had a purpose (which was further revealed in the sequel), God has a purpose for us, and He wants us to be strengthened and willing to partner with Him – through good times and bad – to fulfill our calling to His purpose.
I’ll close with this 1883 hymn by Daniel Whittle that some of you might remember, which is based on verse 12:
I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.
But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”
I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.
I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing men of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.
I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before His face I see.
I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air.
– What are some practical steps you can take to “fan into flame the gift of God” in your life?
– Reflect on some events in your life that led you to following Jesus. How can you use those experiences to encourage others to walk in faith and love instead of in fear?