We know the spiritual gifts had begun to fade away by the time Paul wrote this epistle for he left a man behind “sick” (IITim.4:20) instead of healing him. So Paul tells Timothy to “stir up” his gift that was fading.
His gift had to do with the “tears” (1:4) that came naturally to him as a timid man. It was the gift of apostle (Eph.4:8-11), a gift that we know made Paul bold, for once it faded this bold apostle had to ask for prayer that he might be bold (Eph.6:18,19). Paul was “the” apostle of the Gentiles (Rom.11:13) but Barnabas was an apostle (Acts 14:14) as was Silvanus and Timothy (ITh.1:1; 2:6).
I pause to add that when I say that Paul’s gift of apostle faded, he was still our apostle, just as when the gifts of pastor and teacher faded we still had pastors and teachers (Eph.4:8-11). We just didn’t have men with those gifts. And we still don’t, but we still have Paul as our apostle.
How’d Paul expect Timothy to stir up his gift? With God’s Word, just as God stirred up Cyrus (Ezra 1:1,2) by predicting his name and the fact that he’d rebuild Israel’s temple a hundred years earlier (Isa.44:28).Once king, Cyrus figured that meant Israel’s God was God and he should do what He predicted he’d do. So Paul expected Timothy to use the Word to stir up the boldness his departed gift took.
Remember, the “profit” of the gifts (ICor.12:7) was replaced with the profit of the Word (IITim.3:16). So if you want boldness, you too have to look to the word to “stir” it up (II Peter 1:12,13; 3:1,2).
Why did Paul have to say God hasn’t given us the spirit of fear (1:7)? Who would think He did? Some might, for we know that He gave the suffering that caused the spirit of fear (Phil.1:29). Suffering for the Lord is a gift, a privilege (Acts 5:40,41), something that comes along with the gift of being able to serve Him. But the fear that often goes along with suffering is not a gift from God (Phil.1:27-29), it was a gift from Satan, who doesn’t want us to be bold.
It is called “the spirit” of fear because a spirit can take you over completely (cf.Mt.17:15), and fear can do that too. To counter this, God gave the spirit “of power” (1:7). How do we get that? Well, in time past God pointed to the Red Sea as an example of His power (Job 26:12; Isa.50:2). If you knew your God could part the Red Sea, wouldn’t it have given you a spirit of power if you lived back then?
In the New Testament, God points to the resurrection of Christ to exemplify His power (Rom.1:3,4). If you know your God can raise the dead, it should give you the spirit of power! The Red Sea miracle can’t give us the spirit of power, for we know God’s not saving His people from death like that in this age. But the resurrection of Christ can, for we know God plans to raise us in power as well (ICor.6:14; 15:43). His resurrection should give us the same spirit of power it gave the apostles. They forsook the Lord in fear when He was arrested, but preached boldly at Pentecost after He rose from the dead.
But to not be ashamed to testify for the Lord you’ll also need the motivation of the spirit “of love” (1:7). You have to love people to testify to them! The problem is, most people are unlovable. So you need the spirit of love Christ showed when He died for the unlovable (Rom.5:6,10).
You’re also going to need the spirit of “a sound mind” to testify to people. Wisdom makes a mind sound (Pr.2:7; 3:21; 8:14), and the wisdom that comes from being sound in God’s word makes a man not “ashamed” (Ps.119:80). Of course! People fear to testify for fear they’ll be asked a question they can’t answer, and wisdom and knowledge can dispel this fear. The gifts of wisdom and knowledge used to dispel it (ICor.12:8), but now “sound doctrine” does (Tit.1:9), “the form of sound words” we learn from Paul (IITim.1:13).
Sound doctrine will make you unashamed of “the testimony of our Lord” through Paul, that Christ died for all (ITim.2: 5,6) and that we are not under the law (Gal.5:3). We should also not be ashamed of Paul. Onesiphorus wasn’t (IITim.1: 16), but Timothy was, for he feared dying as he had.