“Stir Up the Gift of God” (Vance Havner)

2 Timothy 1:6

“I believe that Timothy was afflicted with a constitutional timidity. Paul reminds him to let no man despise his youth, and to the Corinthians he wrote: ‘Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be among you without fear’ (1 Cor. 16:10). He was a splendid young preacher, with good ancestry and in dead earnest, but he needed to be set on fire….

“Paul advises Timothy to kindle the sacred Flame within him … There come times in our experiences when the fires of God burn low and we must stir up the heavenly flame within our hearts.

“Timothy was not exhorted to stir up himself. It is not our fire but God’s that we are to kindle … It is stated in another verse: ‘Neglect not the gift that is in thee which was given thee by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery’ (1 Tim. 4:14). It was the gift of the Spirit for his peculiar ministry, the supreme qualification for preaching and witnessing and service. And in application it represents the fire of the Spirit in each and all of us believers.

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“[Paul] knew the value of experience, for he would have no bishop be a novice. But, above all that, he would say, ‘Timothy, stir up the fire, don’t get in a rut and don’t let them make an ordinary preacher out of you.'”

“If for any reason the fire has become coals, stir up the gift of God! Keep aglow at any cost! No price is too great to pay to be a ‘burning and shining light’ for Him! Better go to lengths that may seem absurd to others to keep the fire blazing!

“There are so many things that can smother the fire.

1. Willful sin will do it.

“Our Lord told us that the candle of testimony may be smothered by the bushel or the bed. The bushel stands for money-making, the cares of business, the temporal concerns of this fife. The bed stands for luxury, ease, worldly pleasure, the sloth that so enervates the soul.”

2. Neglect will smother the fire.

“Let the fire alone and it will bum low and the ashes will gather. If we neglect the means of grace, prayer, the Word, and holy exercise, we shall soon need a stirring.”

3. Others can quench the Spirit and smother our fire.

“If [the Christian] allows it, men will tone him down, steal the joy of his salvation, and reduce him to the dreary level of the general average. If the devil cannot keep us from being saved, he next endeavors to make average Christians of us, and in this he usually succeeds… The devil does not mind our joining church if we behave like most of those who are already inside. But when a real, wide-awake Christian breezes along, taking the Gospel seriously, the devil grows alarmed and begins plotting his downfall.”

4. Fear can choke the fire.

“Paul says to Timothy in the very word next to the passage we are considering, ‘For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’ The man who hid his talent said, ‘I was afraid.’ The fires that fear has smothered–fear of the past or present or future, fear of others, of failure, of sickness, of death! Whatever fear you may have, it is not of God, for He hath not given us such a spirit….

“Let us remember that stirring up the gift of God is our business. God will not do it for us. We must rouse ourselves from our lethargy and get down to business in prayer and feeding upon the Word and holy exercise.

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“It is related that in Scotland years ago, before the day of matches, the fires had gone out throughout a community. The people set out looking for someone who had a fire. At last, far up on a hillside, they found a humble home where the hearthstone glowed with cheery flame. Soon they were carrying coals here and there to replenish their own blackened fireplaces. Today there are weary hearts, discouraged souls, needy churches looking for a soul with a fire, someone who has kept aglow in spite of the world, the flesh and the devil.

“What has smothered your fire? Renounce it, yield afresh to God, and stir up His gift within you!

Vance Havner