We have pointed out that in 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul charged Timothy to commit to faithful men the things which he had heard from Paul. These faithful men should be those who are competent to teach others. In order to fulfill this commission, Timothy himself had to be on fire. This is the reason Paul reminded him to “fan into flame the gift of God” which was in him (1:6).
At this juncture we need to ask a question: What was the gift of God that Timothy was charged to fan into flame? The Pentecostal people might say that this was the gift of speaking in tongues, but this is doubtful, especially in view of the fact that in Paul’s latest writings the miraculous things are rarely mentioned. I believe that, first, the gift in verse 6 is the gift of eternal life. A gift, of course, must be given by someone. God surely has given us something, and the first thing that He has given us is the divine life. We all have received eternal life, the divine life. I also believe that, second, the gift here is the gift of the divine Spirit. The eternal life and the divine Spirit, or the eternal Spirit, are both God Himself.
This understanding of the gift in verse 6 raises another question: How is it possible for us to fan the Holy Spirit? Christians usually think that the Holy Spirit fans us, that the Holy Spirit fans our spirit. Do we fan the Spirit or does the Spirit fan us? Concerning this matter of fanning into flame the gift of God, we may still be under the influence of traditional Christian teaching. According to traditional teaching, the believers are told to ask for the Spirit, not to fan the Spirit. To ask for something implies that we do not have that thing. Hence, to ask for the Spirit implies that we do not have the Spirit. To fan the Spirit, on the contrary, implies that we have the Spirit already. The “fire” of the Spirit is in us as the “stove,” but in order for the fire to burn, there is the need of a “draft.” To fan the flame is to bring in the needed draft. This illustration may give you an idea about what it means to fan the Spirit as the gift of God within us.
God has given us two precious things—His divine life and His divine Spirit. Now we need to fan the gift of God into flame. The first step in fanning the gift is not to exercise; the first step is to open all the “doors” and “windows.” We need to open our entire being. Open your mind, emotion, and will. Open your entire soul, open your heart, and open your spirit. Every morning we need to go to the Lord and open ourselves to Him. However, often we may spend time with the Lord without opening our being to Him. In such a situation the fire does not burn.
Those who teach in the Summer School of Truth must open their entire being—spirit, heart, soul, mind, emotion and will—so that the “draft” may come in. The Spirit is in you already, but you need to fan the fire, the Spirit, into flame. I am somewhat concerned that when you go to teach a class in our summer school, you will be a shut-up person, a person whose being is closed to the draft. You have the Spirit and eternal life within you, but because you are closed the draft cannot come in. If you are this kind of person, you will teach the young people merely according to your knowledge or according to what is printed in the lesson book. That kind of teaching is deadening. Before you go to teach, you must first fan the gift into flame. The more you open, the more the fire will burn. The draft from your fanning may cause the fire to burn for hours or even for the whole day.
In 2 Timothy 2:22 Paul told Timothy to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” If your being is closed, you need to call on the name of the Lord Jesus. As you call on the Lord, open not only your mouth but also your spirit and your heart. Then the draft will come in, and that will fan into flame the eternal life and the eternal Spirit within you. Fan into flame the gift which you have received from God. Let the gift become a flame. Then go to teach the young people not with an “ice-cold” mind but with a flame. If you are too sober in your mind, you will be cold ice when you go to teach. Do not be cold! Be “boiling hot” with the gift that has been fanned into flame!
Thus far, we have seen that we should teach God’s economy and that we should fan into flame the gift of God, opening our whole being and calling on the name of the Lord Jesus. In addition, we surely need to exercise our spirit. After charging Timothy to fan into flame the gift of God, Paul went on to say, “For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power and of love and of sobermindedness” (1:7). The spirit here denotes our spirit, regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 3:6; Rom. 8:16). To fan into flame the gift of God is thus related to our regenerated spirit. Of power refers to our will; of love, to our emotion; and of sobermindedness, to our mind. This indicates that having a strong will, a loving emotion, and a sober mind has very much to do with having a strong spirit for the exercise of the gift of God that is in us.
(Teachers' Training, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)