May 3rd, 2009 – 2 Timothy 1:6-9

Growth through the Practice of Courageous Faith

Lesson 1


At a circus a huge elephant was tied to an eighteen inch stake. Someone asked the elephant trainer, “Can that elephant not easily pull that stake out of the ground and get free?” The trainer said, “Sure! But he had tried that when he was a baby elephant and was unsuccessful. The elephant concluded that he could never pull it out of the ground and go free.” So there the massive, powerful elephant stood with the ability to lift whole trees, yet captive to a puny 18 inch stake. (Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, #459)
In a similar way when our faith in Christ does not grow it will show in life. All the power and resources of God reside within us through the Holy Spirit, yet we allow our lives and faith to be defined by limitations like an 18 inch stake in the ground. Over the next five sessions we will consider from the book of 2 Timothy ‘How Faith Grows’. We will study five actions when incorporated into our day-to-day lives will set us free to live by faith.
The first point of spiritual growth as we will see in 2 Timothy 1:6-9 is: ‘Growth through the Practice of Courageous Faith’. We will consider two things about courageous faith in this passage:

  • The Inward Traits of Courageous Faith (vv.6-7)
  • The Outward Expressions of Courageous Faith (vv.8-9)

The Inward Traits of Courageous Faith

Read: 2 Timothy 1:6-7

Key Question: What do you think are the traits depicted in vv.6-7 of a faith that is growing?

In v.5 Paul acknowledges the “sincere faith” of his young friend Timothy. But, as is apparent from the verses to follow, Timothy like all of us needed to take concrete active steps to grow spiritually. Paul starts in v.6 by calling upon Timothy to “… fan into the flame the gift of God, which is in you …”. What flame? What gift? First, the term “gift” is often translated “grace”. In v.6 it refers to the spiritual gift or gifts that God had placed “in” Timothy when he committed his life to Christ. The phrase, “fan the flame lit. means ‘to keep the fire alive’. How do we then “fan the flame” of our spiritual gifts? As with Timothy we have to make the conscious effort to find and use our gifts for the benefit of others. It is in the midst of investing our lives that our experience of Christ will be deepened and our faith in Him will grow. We will be gratified to see and know that God desires to take and use us as ordinary people in extraordinary ways. So the first inward trait of courageous faith is perseverance. We have to persevere in using our gifts in order to see God’s purpose fulfilled. If it were easy and instantly gratifying to find and use our gifts for the benefit of others then likely more believers would be doing it.

The second general trait (v.7) that Paul depicts of a courageous faith is of a believer trusting day-to-day the character God is developing within. Notice that Paul states one thing God does not inspire us to and three things that He does inspire us to live by. First, God does not “give us a spirit of timidity” which lit. means ‘cowardice’. Paul is essentially calling upon Timothy (and all believers) to refuse to be controlled by fear. To feel fear at times is human. To be controlled by fear is cowardice or “a spirit of timidity”. Instead of fear we are challenged each day to live out of a “spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

What depicts your day-to-day faith or trust in Christ more: “a spirit of timidity” or “a spirit of power, love and self-discipline”? When we choose and stay the course of power, love and self-discipline God will develop overtime a greater ability within to practice courageous faith.

The Outward Traits of Courageous Faith

Read: 2 Timothy 1:8-9

When we reject being controlled by fear and instead choose to live out of a “spirit of power, love and self-discipline” (v.7), Paul reveals in essence we will then exhibit courageous faith through a bold personal witness (v.8) and through developing Christ-like character (v.9). He states, “… do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord …” (v.8) and God “… has called us to a holy life … because of His purpose and grace.” (v.9)

As we pursue holiness we will desire and see the value of fulfilling God’s “purpose and grace”.


The faith journey called for in vv.6-9 is a simple one to understand, but it will take courage on your part to persevere in walking the trail God has laid before us. Paul implores us to find and use our “gifts” while we still can (v.6); to reject being controlled by fear and live out of a “spirit of power, love and self-discipline” (v.7); to give a bold witness for Christ as He gives opportunities (v.8); to grow in Christ-like character through the pursuit of holiness and God’s purpose (v.9).
It is a given that a runner can’t advance to second base in a baseball game without taking his foot off the relative comfort and safety of first base. To see faith grow we too must leave the comfort and perceived safety of where we are spiritually and practice courageous faith.

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