It’s cold, there is snow on the ground and more is forecast. I am coughing and achy.
In this state I am paying close attention to keeping the fire that heats our house going. When it is cold you are acutely aware that without an ongoing supply of fuel and air a fire will quickly go out. Then it requires gentle persuasion to coax the flames back into life.
Gently fanning flames from small sparks is what Paul encouraged Timothy to do:
I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 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 God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
(2 Timothy 1:5-7 ESV)
Paul is not taking Timothy’s faith for granted. A sincere faith, passed on from his mother and a gift of God. If left untended faith would burn low, flicker, then fail.
Much of my growth in faith is by grace, the Holy Spirit causing faith to grow in ways I don’t understand (Mark 4:26-29). But knowing it is only by grace that I’m able to grow does not mean I will grow by doing nothing. If I do not fan the flame and keep adding fuel to the fire it could go out.
When faith is left untended it burns low and loses energy. I may still trust in Christ but beyond that am ineffective, lacking any fervour or motivation to be a positive force for God in my community. This is a familiar state for me, glowing embers but lacking the blazing fire needed to warm others.
I think the fuel for faith is to see the works of faith – God working through the lives of His people. Opening my eyes to see grace in the real world, realizing that God is active and has not abandoned us to unbelief.
When my fire has burned low and I am cold to the idea of shining the light of Christ, what am I to do about it?
My tentative approach is:
- Open my eyes to see grace at work (John 4:35).
- Ask God to use me and make me burn to do His will (Luke 10:2).
- Love my neighbour (Luke 10:36-37).