Monday, July 23, 2012

Stir up the χάρισμα

Wesley's homilectical references to 2 Timothy 1:6 are consistent in every sermon but one.  His NT translation "stirring up the gift of God"  is close to the Greek "ἀναζωπυρεῖν τὸ χάρισμα τοῦ θεοῦ" (literally "to kindle the charisma of God") and Sermons 19, 23, 35, 42, 46, 48, 66, and 72 all make reference to stirring up the gift of God by practicing spiritual disciplines. 

Either the gift will be fanned into flame by daily spiritual exercises, or the gift will be dampened if the means of grace are neglected.  There is no middle ground in Wesley's doctrine.  The flame grows brighter or the flame becomes dimmer; it can not hold a steady state.

Sermon 85, "On working out our own salvation," repeats this warning with one notable difference.  In paragraph III.6, Wesley gave this advice, "Stir up the spark of grace which is now in you, and he will give you more grace."

This switch from Gift to Grace puzzled me.  I usually associate charisma with the list of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12.  Wesley's argument in Sermon 85 expands that definition to include grace itself as a gift of the Spirit.  This gift is in us, it requires constant stirring, and we can receive more of it.

What means do you use to stir up the spark of grace while you wait to receive more of this gift from God? 


Anonymous said...

I tend to think of it like this:
it is noteworthy that "gift" and "grace" are the same word in the Greek of the New Testament (or variants of the same word). God's grace towards us is his gift; the spiritual gifts are specific manifestations of a more general grace/gift given to us through Christ and in the Spirit

LA said...

Par. 15 of doctrinal Sermon 12, "The Witness of our own spirit" contains a two-fold definition of grace-- grace as unmerited mercy and grace as the power of God the Holy Spirit. When Wesley referred to stirring up grace instead of gift, I think he had the latter definition in mind.