I took my daughter Madylynn on a horseback riding and camping trip a few years ago. I got some firewood from a buddy knowing we’d need a campfire for food in the evening (aka S’mores). I thought I had grabbed enough, but that evening, I quickly discovered I had miscalculated.
Maddy and I went scavenging for any wood we could find. Branches, sticks, leaves. If it would burn, we gathered it. Once our hands were full, we returned to the quickly dwindling campfire and put our fuel on the fire. It didn’t do much, so I started fanning the flame. At first, I used the box for an air mattress, but then I got a brilliant idea! I plugged in the air pump for the air mattress and could fan the flame to the point it was bright, toasty, and s’more-ready! It was glorious!
Paul talks about fanning the flame in his second letter to Timothy. He writes…
2 Timothy 1:6-7 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
What gift of God is Paul referring to? The phrase “laying on hands” reminds me of my own ordination. It could be Paul reminding Timothy of his ordination when Paul laid hands on him. It could also refer to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, which every believer receives as a gift of God. It’s God’s gift of grace. Both really apply to all believers as we are all part of the priesthood of believers (1 Peter 2:9), meaning we’re all ministers, whether ordained or not. And both are gifts. And both need to be fanned!
We need to fan into flame the gift of grace for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps we’ve gotten stale in our worship time or devotions. We’ve let our quiet time with God become crowded, having other things push and shove it around till it becomes a second or third thought and a “have to” instead of a “want to”. And while those are valid (and I’ve been guilty of), I want to focus specifically on another reason.
Temptation and sin.
Yeah, I know…it’s not a favorite subject. However, it’s something each of us has to face. We all have strengths, and we all have weaknesses. So, let’s stir this pot for a few minutes.
Sin promises fulfillment. Temptation will come and say you need this. You deserve this. You’ve earned it. It’ll lie to you and tell you it’s good for you. It’s natural. It’s part of who you are. It’ll bring you happiness and the peace you desire. You’ve been tempted enough, I’m sure. Take note of those lies. You’ll discover some common threads.
And here’s the thing…the more we stay on this line of thinking…the longer we spend thinking about it, we fan that flame. Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life, all are fanned with that thought process.
And what happens when we give in? It’s not just a sin. It’s so much more. It’s not just a transgression between us and God. Here’s what happens. Joy leaks out of our hearts. And that causes a whole domino effect. The phrase “the joy of the Lord is our strength” isn’t just a nicety. It’s a necessity! Without joy, we become short with others. We’re less content. Less patient. More agitated. Grumpy. Coarse. We’re frustrated at ourselves, disappointed that we gave in. Self-pity can be the response for some. For others, it’s blaming everyone else. What was to be fulfillment robs us and empties us more than we were before! It’s horribly ugly. A trap that steals, kills, and destroys.
Here’s the bottom line.
All these drive a wedge between us and every other relationship, including God. And that’s Satan’s goal. He’s the lion prowling around, trying to single out another sheep from the rest of the flock. He can’t take on the whole flock, but if driven far enough away from the flock, one sheep is easy pickings.
All this means we get to choose which flame to fan. Do we want to fan the flame of temptation or fan the flame of the power of the Holy Spirit? Well I hope you chose the second option because that’s the direction we’re heading. So…How do we do that?
First is through God’s power. Not just power to resist, but power to talk! Think about this for just a second. The more you share your revelations about Jesus Christ in small groups, while serving on Sunday mornings, and all throughout your week, the more alive those revelations become and the harder Satan has to fight to get you to move away from them! So share Jesus unashamedly! Take the courage to speak.
Second is the Word. I can’t say this enough! We all are empowered by grace, which is found in the Bible. We have to ingest it, digest it, and meditate on it. Not just on Sundays, but daily! You don’t eat once a week, do you? Of course not! Our intake of Scripture ought to be like that! The truths in God’s Word are full of the fuel you and I need to keep fanning the flame.
You know, one thing I noticed with Madylynn and my campfire. It would dwindle if I let the fire sit too long without stirring or fanning. There is no sitting in neutral. Either the fire is being fed or starved. And it’s the same with our lives. A quick examination of your own life will likely reveal that your weak moments are ones where you’ve stopped fanning and feeding the flame. We have to choose which flame to fan.
Our camping trip ended the next day. And while we had some struggles throughout the night, it was a fantastic trip on which I’ll always look back fondly and laugh at ourselves gathering whatever we could scavenge for fuel.
But before this post ends, I’ve got just one more thing to mention. I don’t know how it is for you, but Satan is excellent at keeping me from fanning the right flame by telling me I’m what I’ve done…my past sins. Can I just remind you…you are never what you’ve done! You are what you’ll become when you place yourself in God’s hands. God is far more interested in your future than your past. And if Satan pulls out your past remind him of his future. Spoiler alert. He loses. You win. All because of Jesus!
Fan the right flame!
You are loved!