I’m not a big fan of the all-you-can-eat buffet. There’s just something about hundreds of people picking through the same food that has a way of suppressing my appetite. I’m fully aware that sneeze guards are in place, but I’m playing it safe. That said, one part of the buffet line that does appeal to me is the soup bar. The soup tends to be pretty safely guarded under a metal lid of some kind. Especially on a cold day, I like to enjoy a bowl of clam chowder, chicken noodle, or beef vegetable soup. More than once I’ve returned to my seat only to discover disappointedly that my soup was pretty thin. In my haste to ladle myself a bowl, I hadn’t stirred the pot to assure a tasty, balanced mixture. The good stuff had settled to the bottom. And I didn’t pay $7.99 for broth! Nope, I want the good stuff.
Our lives are kind of like that soup container. We all have some good stuff in it. The Lord put it there–and He is the Master at depositing all of the right ingredients. Problem is, the good stuff seems to settle to the bottom, and those whom we serve tend to receive a disappointing, non-substantive, brothy mix instead of the good stuff the Lord deposited in our lives for their benefit.
It happens. Slowly and imperceptibly it happens. We become sedentary. Without periodic stirring, our lives lack homogeny and balance. What does a person do when he finds himself in this situation? Why is it that the good things in us tend to sink to the bottom, giving place to what’s thin, watery, and unsatisfying?
Maybe we should ask Timothy. After all, it happened to him. Yup, the promising young disciple from Lystra, the missionary to Ephesus, the companion of Paul, and the faithful servant of God unwittingly allowed the good stuff in his life to settle to the bottom. In the place of boldness and love, the fear of man and reticence toward the gospel rose to the surface of his life. Sadly, he was in danger of becoming ineffective for the cause of Christ. A former champion of the gospel, Timothy was growing ashamed of the testimony of the Lord and even distancing himself from the ministry of his mentor, Paul. Timothy’s ministry was becoming one of paralyzing fear and growing spiritual reluctance. And if it happened to him, it can happen to me.
But Paul loved Timothy as a son and wrote an important letter to help him. “Stir up the gift of God in you!” he encouraged Timothy. “Don’t be ashamed of the Lord,” he further insisted. Timothy was allowing fear to rule him, and Paul understood the need to encourage him to stir up the good stuff. So how did Paul encourage Timothy to be stirred again to a place of vibrant, energetic ministry for Christ? How can a person regain the oomph of serving God? Does hope exist for believers who find themselves ensnared by a defeated spirit, merely subsisting in a debilitating spiritual ennui? The response of course is a resounding, “Yes!” and, predictably, the answer can be found in God’s Word. [The rest of the article will make more sense if you read 2 Timothy 1:1-8 at this point.] http://bit.ly/1nePq0X
Paul encouraged Timothy to remember the time when he had been ordained to the ministry. Sometimes we grow complacent in our service to God because we fail to thoughtfully consider the ways by which the Lord has already invested in our lives. Although Paul would eventually rebuke Timothy (v. 8), he first encouraged Timothy by reminding him of their own relationship, other past godly relationships, and Timothy’s ordination to ministry.
By reminding him of their own relationship, Paul offered great encouragement to Timothy. In essence he told him, “I love you; I pray for you; I love being with you; and I appreciate your sincerity.” How these statements of affirmation must have inspired Timothy! After all, Timothy was not in the best spiritual mindset at the time—this Paul knew—yet the Apostle confirmed his love and support for his protégé. I can’t think of many things that are more stirring than the sincere, loving affirmations of a godly mentor.
Additionally Paul reminded Timothy about his godly upbringing. The sincerity of his faith had first been modeled by his mother and grandmother. Too seldom do we call to mind the influence of faithful past generations. Their investments should be our inspirations. Indeed their sacrifices should stir us up.
Along with the church leaders, Paul had laid hands on Timothy, ordaining him to the ministry. Ordination is a matter of people recognizing the call of God upon the life and ministry of another. Simply put, God had called Timothy into special ministry service. And where God calls, He equips. Whatever that special gift or measure of grace was, Timothy had allowed it to become dormant. Now Paul encourages him to stir it up. Similarly, I think all of us can recall times of special spiritual enrichment, momentous times of God’s working in our lives. We must never forget them. Reliving them will enflame a fervent passion and reignite the cooling embers of a smoldering mediocrity.
We all feel fear. It is part of the human condition. The feeling of fear can grip us, and its voice can easily dominate the conversation of our lives. Never should we allow fear to be our counselor. Her advice contradicts that of faith. It is not wrong to feel fear, but it is wrong to act upon her counsel. Paul helped Timothy to understand that a spirit of fear does not come from God. Although fear spoke clamorously, Timothy had other options at his disposal. What options?
The jail cell of spiritual complacency for Timothy was fear. Only by renewing his mind could he victoriously walk away from its incarceration. As a true believer, he possessed the power of God’s Holy Spirit—the very resurrection power of Jesus Christ—as a resource for obedience. Fear tells me that I must inevitably fail; faith tells me that the Holy Spirit will enable me to become more like Jesus every day as I simply yield to Him!
And as a motivation for Timothy, he enjoyed no less than the very love of God Himself! Fear tells me that I must “measure up” for God to love me; faith tells me that God loves and accepts me already. There is absolutely nothing a believer can do to make God love him any more than He already does. Re-read that last sentence and think about it for a moment. Now that’s the kind of love that constrains me to love Him back and serve Him better!
One of the great benefits of knowing Jesus Christ is the soundness of mind that He provides His followers. Think of it. We believers know what we were without Him, what we now are because of Him, and what we one day will be when we are with Him. Flesh and fear have no such perspective. They consistently counsel us to do what feels good in the moment and to avoid conflict at all costs. As we consider carefully both the brevity of life and its purpose, we move forward in soundness of mind.
Have you become spiritually complacent? Perhaps you are gripped by some kind of debilitating fear. Remind yourself of the love of God! Contemplate the reality of His awesome power. A simple journey down memory lane will remind you of people He has used in your life and special moments at which He has showed Himself especially strong.
Quit listening to your fears and tell yourself again that your loving and powerful God is worth serving and suffering for. Dip the ladle down deep. Bring the good stuff up again.
Stir yourself up!
Source: Consider This