Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. 2 Timothy 1:6
Nothing appeals to me any more on a cold wintry day than the prospect of some delicious, homemade beef stew! You know, the kind full of potatoes, carrots, beans, and especially meat, all bathed in a savory broth… mmmmm. mmmmm. Good! Of course, the secret to getting the good stuff is to stir up the pot, because all of the best food tends to sink to the bottom.
So it is in our lives that the good stuff tends to become sedentary. Unless we “stir it up,” our lives can become little more than a savory broth lacking the substance others need. Despite Timothy’s doubts to the contrary, God had supernaturally equipped him for the task to which He had called him. Always we must remember that “wherever God guides, He provides.” Or, as the songwriter remarked, “God will never lead me where His grace cannot keep me.”
For years Timothy and Paul had labored together. With an intrepid spirit they had forged the Gospel trail from city to city. Perhaps, with Paul at his side, Timothy felt a camaraderie that provided a sense of boldness. Now in his absence it seems that Timothy had resorted to a character trait reminiscent of his life before his calling—the trait of timidity. Let’s face it: we all have besetting sins. For Timothy it just happened to be a lack of boldness.
With the leaders of the church at Lystra, Paul had laid hands upon Timothy to ordain him to the ministry. The ordination council simply recognized and affirmed that God was at work in young Timothy’s life. It could be that the gift about which Paul speaks in this verse is simply the gift of being called into God’s service. Probably, though it refers to the fact that God provided a special, gracious enablement for an otherwise timid young man to be a mighty proponent of the Gospel and an indefatigable worker in the ministry of church planting.
For those of us in ministry—and really we have all been commissioned by God for some aspect of His work in the local church—this verse has a ring of personal familiarity. Think about it: when was my service to God most vibrant, outspoken, and bold? Typically when I first trusted Christ or first recognized His special calling for service upon my life. But like that pot of stew, the good stuff settled. Didn’t it?
So what do I do? And how do I encourage a teen whose heart for and service to God has waned? The answer lies right in the text: stir up that gift of God by calling to remembrance what God did! Maybe that’s why the Apostle Peter said that he would “...not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance…” (2 Peter 1:12-13)
To a teenager your “stirring up” words of encouragement might sound like this:
"Hey, I know that you’ve been struggling, and I want you to know that I’ve been praying for you. I love hanging out with you, and I’m confident that God wants to bless you in a great way. Listen, I know you’re not perfect—neither am I - but I appreciate the fact that you’re real. I was just thinking about that service at teen camp when you surrendered your life to the Lord… Wow! That was a great night! I’m so glad that I was a part of it. Let me encourage you to remember what God did that night. You know, His gifts and calling upon your life have not gone away. They’ve not changed one bit. Why don’t you spend some time alone thinking about what God did for you, and how God wants to use you?"
The “Apostle Paul” of our lives will not always be with us to encourage us. We must learn to stir ourselves up by calling to mind the awesome plan God has for our lives, a plan to which He has attached His mighty enabling power and grace.
And now if you’ll excuse me, I have a sudden craving for a bowl of hot beef stew!