The great violinist, Niccolo Paganini willed his marvelous violin to city of Genoa on condition that it must never be played. The wood of such an instrument, while used and handled, wears only slightly, but set aside, it begins to decay. Paganini's lovely violin has today become worm-eaten and useless except as a relic. A Christian's unwillingness to serve may soon destroy his capacity for usefulness.
This past Sunday at our church, we were privileged to ordain a young man named Corey Adams to the Gospel Ministry. As a part of the service, various portions of the Apostle Paul’s New Testament charge to young Timothy were read aloud. Paul begins his Second Letter to Timothy with these words (2:1-14):
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
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. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you - guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
The phrase Paul uses in Verse 7, “fan into flame”, is actually one long compound word in the original Koine (or common) Greek language: “anazópureó”. This term itself is a combination of three smaller words: “ana”, “ zoon”, and “pur”, meaning “anew, again” and “to be living” and “fire”.
It is a beautiful word picture for rekindling a dying ember. For every fire, no matter how hot or how bright it burns, will eventually die down and smolder and even go out if it is not tended, stoked, and fed.
In like manner, most every of follower of Christ, whether they be an ordained minister or a lay servant, begin their walk with the Lord “on fire” for Him. But over time, that passion can, and often does, dwindle. It is important, therefore, to give attention to that passion - to fan into flame the spiritual nature of our lives. And then, once this is glowing afresh and anew, it will also be important to use it for God’s glory, both by helping to light the way and to warm the hearts of others.
For, set aside and left unattended, as was the case with Paganini’s violin, we may well become brittle, unproductive, and eventually, all but useless.
STORY SOURCE: J. Carl Laney, Marching Orders: The Final Discipleship Instructions of Jesus in John 13-17 (Victor books, 1983), p. 34. (Available through Dr. Laney’s personal website at: http://www.carllaney.com/.)
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: http://biblehub.com/niv/2_timothy/1.htm.
GREEK WORD STUDY SOURCE: http://biblehub.com/greek/329.htm.