“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” 2 Tim 1:6
I have gone back a verse now, because you cannot skate over this plea by Paul. This is not an optional extra in the Christian life, particularly if you have a calling! (Check out 1:9 if you don’t think you have a calling…).
The context here is that Paul is remembering that Timothy has shown ‘genuine faith’, and not only the faith of one generation, but a three-generation faith, passed down from his mother and his grandmother. He is persuaded of Timothy’s faith. And after this verse, Paul encourages Timothy, the pastor (who is ministering in Ephesus), that he does not need to be afraid. If you think you might come under attack, you are likely to be on the defensive. But in order to walk into your giftings you have to be on the offensive, proactive and alert.
‘Stir up’ means to kindle afresh, or to keep in full flame. The gift here is a fire that could die out through neglect. The ‘gift’ is simply charis, which is what the Holy Spirit bestows on believers. The use of ‘laying on of hands’ is suggesting here that Timothy was set aside for a particular work, and that Paul’s authority is a foundation upon which Timothy can build. The application for us today is that as we submit to any godly authority, and receive their commissioning (ensuring that it seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us, as it says in Acts), we can remind ourselves OF that commissioning to strengthen our ministry and to give us boldness when we need it.
Other verses which illuminate this idea of being stirred up include Exodus 36:2: “Then Moses called Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whose heart the Lord had put wisdom, everyone whose heart was stirred, to come and do the work.” The qualification is wisdom or the anointing of God, but in addition the emotional firepower, the passion, to see the dream fulfilled. Matt 25:15-30 has a lot to teach us, in the parable of the talents, about how we are to actively make use of the gifts that we have been given. Those who feel that the Lord will make a way, are not taking into account our preparedness. If we are on the move, we can be redirected. But if we are stationary, it’s going to take a while to get us going, and it may be too late. 1 Thess 5:19 of course tells us not to quench the Spirit. We should not stop what the Spirit longs to do. 1 Pet 4:10-11 reminds us not to be apologetic when we serve others in Christ. “As each has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” With regards to the laying on of hands, we see it in Acts, for example Acts 8:17 “Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money.” And in Hebrews 6:2 it is referred to as a basic doctrine. The first epistle to Timothy contained an earlier instruction: “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.”
So, what do we learn from this simple, potent reminder from Paul to his son in the faith?
1st, that the gift of God within us, like a fire, can burn low, due to our lack of care and diligence.
2nd, that God’s gift to Timothy was imparted by the laying on of hands.
3rd, that giftings can be called out of a believer by the formal recognition of the plural church/authority in the church
4th, that we need to remind each other to stir up the gift
5th, that it is our personal responsibility to stir up the charis of God within us
6th, a reminder that what God has placed in us is a gift, undeserved, and not of our own doing or worthiness.
If you are struggling to find direct application here to your own life, ask God to give you the faith to accept that the gift which Paul equipped Timothy with, is the gift that the Holy Spirit has also equipped you with. How else are the ends of the earth going to see the salvation of our God? Take every opportunity to receive an anointing in response to God’s call on your life. When he calls you, look to your spiritual leaders, your church family, to lay it on you, speak it over you, and allow the breath of the Holy Spirit to make the glowing embers a blasting flame.