When I look back to my time in the Royal Air Force at RAF Marham, the memories of doing guard duty come flooding back. In particular the times when I had to do duty as part of the armed response team for guarding the nuclear weapons compound. When your pager went off you responded rapidly, it was a task of high importance.
This passage in 2 Timothy speaks a lot about guarding. When something is precious it is well worth guarding. Timothy, who is precious to Jesus and Paul, is encouraged to guard that which is within him. The faith he carries is from across the generations; and we carry the baton too, passing it on (using Paul's analogy of running a race) to the next generation. This faith is precious and not something to be ashamed of.
Paul reminds Timothy, in v.6, to fan into flame the gift of God which is in him. When you fan a flame you are increasing the oxygen supply to the combustible material. The flame gets bigger! The Holy Spirit, freely given to us, is the enabler for us to carry out our living in faith. God has given us ‘a spirit not of fear but of power, love and self-control’. When my pager used to go off, there was an element of fear; a fear of the unknown (real, or an exercise?) but then my training kicked in. The real fear was the day I lost the pager in the long grass after an incident. Sometimes things go wrong, (Paul was in prison and soon to die), but we carry on assured of what we know.
How often do we go to v.12 to encourage one another but leave out the first part? Paul is not ashamed of the gospel and is willing to suffer what he is going through because of his firm roots in whom and what he believes. Guard, until Jesus returns, the good deposit in you and entrusted to you. A deposit is meant to grow, hence the fan into flame picture earlier.
God has called us through his purpose and grace – a gift through the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus conquered death and brought us life through the gospel and we follow the pattern of sound words from him. It is a great concern of mine when I read Scripture which says of the latter days that many will fall away from their faith. I also believe this can be averted in many cases by our asking God to show us our weak areas. Areas that need fanning into flame to strengthen weaknesses.
Firstly let us look to ourselves and then encourage and strengthen one another through Christ and not fall away. Amen.