Into Flame

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 Timothy 1:6

This one sentence from Paul to Timothy is packed with so much truth.

Timothy has a gift, a charisma, of God. We know from 1 Corinthians 12:11 that it is the Holy Spirit who distributes the gifts to His people, “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines”(1 Cor 12:11).

Yet, while we know the gift came from the Spirit of God, we learn here that it came through Paul. Apparently, Paul laid his hands on Timothy and prayed for the Spirit to release gifting to Timothy. And what is even more striking is that the Holy Spirit did it. This ability to release an increase of the power of the Spirit or an increase of the gifts of the Spirit is called impartation. Impartation started in the Old Testament with Moses and Joshua:

Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses.

Deuteronomy 34:9

We also see impartation between Moses and the elders who were to help Moses lead in the desert. God told Moses He would take some of the power of the Spirit that was on Moses and give it to the elders:

I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.

Numbers 11:17

Yet, even with Paul imparting gifts to Timothy through the laying on of hands, Timothy still had a responsibility. Timothy was required to “fan into flame” the gift of God. In the Greek, that phrase is one compound word. The Greek word combines the prefix that means “again” and the words meaning “living thing” and “fire.” Literally, this compound Greek word means “to make the fire alive again.”

Fire is often a prophetic symbol of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. Though Timothy was given a gift, he couldn’t remain complacent. He had to fan it into flame. He had to use his gift, grow in his gift, and tend to it as a priest would tend to the fire on the altar of the Temple.

The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.

Leviticus 6:12-13

Our lives are the living sacrifices on the altar and we must keep the fire burning. We must fan into flame the gifts of the Spirit in our lives so that our gifts are a continual offering to the Lord.

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