In 66 AD, the Apostle Paul found himself stuck within the confines of a dark and damp jail cell in Rome. The wear and tear of his extensive journeys were etched on his weathered face, and his calloused hands bore witness to years of dedicated service. This imprisonment marked the final chapter of Paul's earthly journey. However, far from expressing complaint about his circumstances, Paul, believing in the freedom of the Gospel, allowed his words to flow as a passionate plea for the mission to persist. In the flickering candlelight of that prison cell, the ink on parchment encapsulated the essence of a seasoned apostle passing the torch to a younger Timothy. Paul urged Timothy to fulfill his divine calling, ensuring that the flame of the gospel continued to illuminate a world shrouded in darkness.
But what fueled Paul's unwavering focus? His life is one of the most significant examples of a truth woven throughout scripture – the Christian life is an adventure of fulfilling a good calling. We all share the overarching call to partner with God in expanding His kingdom, and each of us possesses unique gifts and opportunities bestowed by the Holy Spirit to fulfill this divine calling.
Oswald Chambers beautifully captures this concept, stating,
"The Call is the inner motive of having been gripped by God, and spoiled for every aim in life save that of discipling men to Jesus."
A believer's ability to stay inspired and engaged in their Christian journey hinges on their discipline in partnering with God to fulfill their calling. While challenges are inevitable in pursuing our calling, the primary hindrance often originates from within. God instills in us a divine desire – using our business for ministry, being salt and light in our work, or dedicating our time, talent, and treasure to glorify Him. Unfortunately, we frequently succumb to self-made excuses like busyness, age, or perceived inadequacy.
LET'S BREAK DOWN THE HISTORY –
The Bible has many examples of people who had to overcome the hindrance of self, but perhaps there is no more significant example than Timothy. The Letter we call 2 Timothy is written by Paul from prison to his son in the faith whom he trained in ministry and loved very dearly. Paul leaves Timothy to carry on the Gospel work and pastor a church in Ephesus. Timothy is young, inexperienced, and struggles with fear and timidity. In short, his main hindrance is himself.
This passage is so important to us because, in Paul’s letter, we find truths that can help us overcome our limitations and take steps toward fulfilling our calling. Paul reminds Timothy that the Holy Spirit has given him three gifts to enable him to fulfill his calling. Importantly enough, these same gifts are available to us today.
1. The Holy Spirit gives you the power to accomplish your calling.
"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of hands, 7. For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power…"– 2 Timothy 1:6-7a
Timothy begins pastoring in Ephesus at a time when the persecution of Christians was on the rise. The threats to Timothy’s life were real, and as the threats grew, Timothy began to shrink from bold preaching and leadership. Paul, in essence, says…Timothy, you are fearful because you’re focused on self-preservation. He uses two phrases to help Timothy regain his courage for his calling.
First, the word fear Paul uses in a strong one… it’s the word for "coward." Paul says God has not called you to be cowardly; The Holy Spirit is the spirit of might and power.
Secondly, he says, “fan into flame,” the gift in you. The words fan or stir means to rekindle like fanning a flame that is going out. In other words, Paul was saying that because you are focused on self-preservation, you are neglecting the power and the gifts God has given you.
How do you fan the flame? One way is by “stepping out”. Paul is saying, Timothy if you will step out and approach your calling boldly, the Holy Spirit will join you.
2. The Holy Spirit gives you the love needed to accomplish your calling.
"For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love…" – 2 Timothy 1:7
We aren’t told how long Timothy pastored the church in Ephesus, but we can gather from Paul’s instructions that it had been long enough for Timothy to become afraid and timid. Paul exposes Timothy’s fear but takes its step further. From his prison cell, Paul writes; Timothy, God did not give you the spirit of fear that causes you to shrink back.
God gave you the Holy Spirit, who can fill your heart with love for God and others so that you are compelled to do whatever it takes to accomplish a good calling.
Paul was compelled by this supernatural love: "Hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5:5
The Holy Spirit offers the same quality and quantity of love for us today. Selfishness hinders your calling. If you serve God only when it is convenient, fear takes over. You may become fearful of the cost of discipleship.
Paul says the Holy Spirit has not given you the spirit of fear that comes from selfishness but love that compels you to sacrifice.
3. The Holy Spirit gives you the discipline to accomplish your calling.
"...for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."– 2 Timothy 1:7
History tells us that this letter would be the last correspondence between Paul and Timothy. Soon after this, Paul would be executed in Rome. Timothy would face the reality of leading the church in an era of persecution without his mentor to guide him. In his final instructions, Paul says Timothy when you stir up the gifts within you by stepping out boldly into your good calling, the Holy Spirit will give you power that propels you and the love that compels you. He will also give you a “sound mind” or the discipline and wisdom you need to succeed.
About Pastor Bob Moya
Pastor Bob Moya has served as the lead pastor with his wife Candace at City Chapel in Arlington, Texas for over 22+ years. He is currently wrapping up his dissertation at Regent University and will graduate in the spring of 2024 with a doctorate degree in Spiritual Renewal and Leadership. When not serving at the church, you'll find Bob enjoying a good read at Barnes & Noble, sipping a nitro cold brew or black coffee at Starbucks, or spending time with his family.