Fan the Flame
The final letter we have from Paul recorded in the New Testament is the letter of 2 Timothy. Paul, languishing in prison in Rome, had some final words of encouragement to impart to his dear “son” in the faith, Timothy. As Paul reminisces of their time together and the things they shared, he was readily mindful of Timothy’s sincere faith (cf. 2 Tim. 1:5). But as per his usual approach, Paul desired that Timothy continue to increase and continue to press forward. He, having spent personal time with Timothy on several occasions, knew Timothy’s potential and the value he brought to God’s Kingdom. With this in mind he encouraged Timothy with these words:
“For this reason, I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Tim. 1:6).
I want you to take particular notice at the wording of the verse above. Paul told Timothy to kindle afresh(fan the flame) the gift that was in him. Such a phrase brings to mind the scene of setting a fire and ensuring that the flames keep burning as long as the fire is needed. So, what was Paul saying? Many souls that come to Christ, usually begin their walk with God with much passion and a fire burns within them that seems hard to put out. They are excited to get involved in bible study, worship services, encouraging their brethren, loving their neighbor etc. Perhaps after a few weeks or a couple months, they may grow discouraged and maybe even feel depressed about their current state. What happened to the fire and the passion? Where did it go?
I think Paul’s point to Timothy is one that relates to us and a rather important one for all of us to consider. There will be times we feel absolutely on fire for Christ wanting to do as much as we can, helping whenever we can and reaching out to whomever we can. But let’s face it. There will also come a time where things won’t seem as optimistic. The world around us might seem to grow worse as each day goes by and nobody is interested in hearing God’s word anymore. We might roll out of bed on Sunday and question whether or not it’s worth it to be at worship services. We may even feel an extreme disinterest in speaking to our brethren because of what we might hear. What am I saying? Friends, sooner or later that campfire will die if the flames aren’t being fanned. If concerted effort isn’t being made to keep the fire alive natural law will take its course and it will die.
Our lives as Christians reflect that of a campfire. It takes a lot of effort to keep a campfire going and if the effort isn’t there the fire will go out and darkness will prevail. When we make the good confession and take the steps to become Christ’s disciples, we ought to realize it was an eternal commitment we made. There is no backing out of it without eternal consequences. It seems as if though Timothy had a fearful spirit of some kind (cf. 2 Tim. 1:7) as do we all from time to time. Is that an excuse to back away from our commitment and let the fire that’s within us die? Certainly not! We all have talents, gifts, abilities and means by which we can spread the gospel, encourage our neighbors and friends, love the brotherhood and put God first. The time will come when our faith will be put to the test and we can either respond by letting the flame die or by keeping it going.
Jesus’ light shines within us and we have to do our part to ensure it doesn’t go out. It’s not an easy thing to be a Christian sometimes but it sure will be worth it. Paul wanted Timothy to know that because he lived it! Paul could have chosen to take the easy way out many times and let his flame die but he didn’t. He chose to press on even when he didn’t want to, and he chose to put God first even if it meant sacrificing a lot. It may be that you feel like giving up. You may feel like that this whole serving God thing isn’t for you. If I can borrow the words of Jim Valvano, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” If you let your flame go out your back right where you started at square one. Darkness begins to rule your life in the form of sin and it takes over leading you into all sorts of problems. Maybe its’s hard right now but trust God when He says everything will work out.
So, how can we keep our flames going? Turn to your heavenly Father and talk to Him about what you are going through. Don’t be shy to shed some tears and do some prostrating when speaking to Him. No matter where we are, He will always be there. He wants us to know how much He cares about us. That’s why He gave us a collection of 66 books covering more than 4,000 years of history so we can take it and digest it.
His words are to be desired and they are sweeter than honey and even finer than gold (cf. Psa. 19:10). God wants us to know through His words that He is there for us and He will fight for us.One of the greatest comforts for a Christians is the fact that there is no one bigger than God and there is none who will defeat Him. Having said that, if we open His words and study them we can find a tremendous source of comfort and strength, so we can keep moving forward.
Reach out to your family. Did you know that Christ died and built a family, so we can help each other get to Heaven? It can be an awkward thing meeting someone for the first time and getting to know them. As Christians, we must realize that we share Christ in common. We may come from different backgrounds and have different opinions about certain things but at the end of the day, Christ unites us in His blood! How wonderful is that? Your family wants to help you and your family also depends on your help. If you should give up, think about how you would be letting them down. Conversely, if you needed them and they gave up on you, how would you feel about that?
Let us not allow our flames to go out. Let us not allow that passion to die. Was it easy for Timothy? No. Is it going to be easy for us? Probably not. But know that God has reserved a special place for you and me in Heaven where we will see Him face to face someday. Do you want to be there? Then fan the flame brethren.