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 (NIV)
Some gifts we receive require a bit of work from us to get their full benefit. I learned this lesson years ago after receiving several cookbooks. I was excited to receive them, but they just sat on the shelf, unopened.
Even though I appreciated the gift when it was given, I did not receive the full benefit of the gift until I put some effort into it. My cooking did not improve just from the cookbook sitting on my shelf. Rather, my cooking improved by exploring the gift, discovering new ingredients and techniques, and trying new recipes. Some recipes turned out great; others, not so much. But through the process, my skill and the range of dishes I cooked increased.
Likewise, in Paul’s letter to Timothy, he encourages Timothy to “fan into the flame” the gift of God. Paul recognizes that the gift needs some effort applied for the gift to be fully received.
How do we fully receive a gift from God? First, we must express our gratitude and thankfulness for the gift God is giving. We can ask God what is on his heart in giving us this gift and ask what he wants for us. Doing those things prepares our hearts. God might draw our attention to some special benefits we are unaware of. Next, ask God to show you in scripture where others have received this gift and how they responded. After that, ask God to show you how to put it into practice. What “new ingredients” might be needed like patience and compassion? Or, what “new techniques” might you need to learn such as discernment or intercession? Finally, ask God to provide some opportunities where you can practice your gift to increase your ability. You might not get it right at first, but as you seek God’s guidance, he will help you get better.
Little by little the spark becomes a flame and then a roaring fire. Likewise, a simple gift can become a great blessing with some effort.
Prayer: God, thank you for the gifts you have brought into my life. Show me how to receive the fullness of these gifts by putting them into practice. Amen.