We are nothing apart from Christ: “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:3) And we are nothing without His will: “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13).
The Lord created us purposely as lesser beings than angels (Ps 8:5), so that we would be dependent upon Him: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matt 6:33) He knew as lesser beings that we all sin and fall short of His glory (Rom 3:23).
But because of His great love for us, He sent His Son to atone for all humanity’s sins if we believe on who He is. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)
It is the Lord who knew us before we were formed in the womb (Jer 1:5). The Lord created us from dust and breathed His breath into us to bring us to life (Gen 2:7). And the Lord created each of us for a purpose: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10)
It is from this place of accepting Jesus Christ as His Savior, and joyfully walking in the steps that Christ planned before He was born, that Paul writes from prison while awaiting execution: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy.” (2 Tim 1:1-4)
Paul joyfully admits that He is an apostle (the work that Christ created for Him before He was even formed in the womb), “according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus”. Paul serves according to the plans of God, not his own designs. Even though this is an introduction, we mustn’t miss that this is true for all true Christ followers — we are to serve according to God’s plan for our lives.
We don’t walk through this world alone; there are many who go before us and many will come along after we are gone from this life. Paul reminds Timothy that it was because he watched his grandmother and mother live out their faith, that he also came to faith (2 Tim 1:5). And then outside his family, he learned much at the side of his friend and mentor, Paul. “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” (2 Tim 1:6).
The phrase “the gift of God” is used several times in the New Testament most often in reference to salvation, such as in John 4:10, where Jesus speaks of “the gift of God” as living water – eternal salvation. Paul also uses the phrase to refer to salvation, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 6:23) He uses it again to describe the grace we are given as a gift at salvation by belief in Christ: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8).
So when Paul is reminding Timothy “to fan into flame the gift of God”, he is encouraging his spiritual son to fully implement the power of his salvation in Jesus Christ; fanning the embers into a stronger, brighter and hotter flame that others can’t miss seeing. Jesus Himself said, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:14-16) The Lord didn’t call us to be secret agent Christians, but instead to boldly let the light He gave us to shine before men! If we have truly died to ourselves and live for Christ, our lives will glow in this dark and sinful world like a beacon to draw others to Him for salvation.
We hide our light by being quiet when we should speak, going along with the crowd, denying the light, letting sin dim our light, or ignoring the needs of others. “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Pet 2:12)
Even when others will persecute us (which Jesus says is a given in John 15:20), they will still see the light within us and it will glorify both the Father and the Son. They can’t deny what the Lord can do through us when we abide in Him, and He in us: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:7-8) So fan those embers into a bright flame by abiding on the vine, and allow His light to shine through you!