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Fan into Flame

I love S’Mores. Even the word. Some-more. Seriously, who doesn’t love the gooey-warm sweetness of chocolate and marshmallows roasted over an open camp-fire flame? It’s fun to watch the kids roasting their marshmallows. It’s even funnier to see them catch on fire, sometimes losing them in the flame!

Think about that for a minute. It takes patience to carefully watch for just the right moment when to take it out of the fire so it’s perfect for the graham cracker and chocolate. The combination is mouth-watering!

It makes me think about what it takes to keep a good fire going. Did you know there are many techniques for building a campfire??

Fires are needed for warmth and comfort, to cook your food and can keep predators at bay in the great outdoors. But learning how to build a fire is just the first step.

If you want more than just a small flame, you have to build that fire up and there is more than one way to build a campfire.

There are things you should know like your surroundings, ensuring the area is safe, as well as selecting pieces of firewood and the ground or dirt where you’re going to be building a campfire.

There are ways to keep a fire going when it’s windy. There are ways to ensure a smokeless fire. There are ways to build a fire for cooking and to keep you warm while you are sleeping. You can even learn how to build a fire when things are wet.

But how do you keep a fire going?? You know how it begins to die down, then there are only small embers left glowing? There are ways to stoke the embers to make the fire come back to life.

Our commitment to our faith in God is sometimes like that campfire.

Sometimes it’s a little ember about to go out. Sometimes it’s a towering inferno, raging almost out of control. But this scripture says it’s up to us whether or not it can go out. We must keep stoking the flame of our faith.

2 Timothy 1:1–12

“I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you…”

What Paul is telling Timothy here is to keep feeding the flame of God’s gift — of speaking openly of Jesus Christ, about His coming, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension as King, Ruler and Lord over all creation.

Timothy is told to fan this flame! Because if you don’t, it will go out. The courage to speak openly about Jesus is a gift from God. Fan it till the embers catch fire. Fan it till it is all ablaze. Everything else in Paul’s message to Timothy is to commission that feeding the gift, enabling courage to tell others about Jesus.

Fan the Flame

There is a difference between hot and really hot. It’s like the marshmallow. It looks great and then suddenly, it’s on fire, charcoal black and falling off into the fire! Compare it to feeling hot in the summertime. You may feel warm but if you light a bonfire, and then your hand comes too close to the flame — that’s burning hot! What about when you are cooking and accidentally burn yourself? Or it's like when you drink your ultra-hot Starbucks too quickly...You definitely understand hot then!

Paul refers to being on fire in Romans 12:11: “Never be lazy in showing such devotion. Be on fire with the Spirit. Serve the Lord.” In other words, keep your spiritual fervor. The word for fervor means "to boil".

Paul wants Timothy on fire. Not just warm, but fire-hot.

Jesus Himself talks about how much he hates lukewarmness...He spits it out of his mouth (Revelation 3:16).

Keep Fanning

Paul tells Timothy to keep fanning the flame. Paul’s point is not that Timothy has grown cold. He is telling Timothy to keep feeding the flame inside him. The idea of “fan into flame” is a continuous, ongoing action. Feeding it means keep adding logs on. The fire consumes the wood and burns them into ashes. Flames go out without continuous fuel.

What also comes to mind is the old-fashioned fireplace air bellow. Bellows have two handles which, when pulled apart, force the chamber to "inhale," drawing air inside itself for storage. When the handles are pushed together, the air chamber forces the air out through the nozzle. Air blows out of the nozzle and onto a small fire or smoldering log to stoke the flames.

The Gift of God

There is also the idea that the gift IS the fire. The ongoing existence of that fire is dependent on Timothy’s obedience to verse 6: Fan it into flame over and over again. It will go out if you don’t — even though it’s the gift of God.

Our fanning the flame is dependent on God’s grace.

Verse 8 says, “by the power of God.” You are fanning, your flame is burning brightly and you tell others about Jesus — this boldness comes from God! You did it “by God’s power.” You acted, but it was His power that enabled you to do it.

Through the Laying On of My Hands

Timothy received this gift of unashamed courage to speak openly of Christ and to suffer for the gospel “through the laying on of my (Paul's) hands.” “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.” In 1 Timothy 4:14, Paul says, “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.”

Verse 4 says, “As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.” I've wondered what may have brought these tears about in Timothy’s life. There is this extremely important moment of the laying on of hands, and having God Almighty, through one of the most powerful men: “Young man, against all your weaknesses and fears, you will speak for me unashamedly and courageously.”

How to Fan the Flame

By the power of God — the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit is what Timothy was supposed to use to feed this flame. The flame of your unashamed courage is sustained “by the power of God.” The next verse says, “You are given a spirit of power, love, and self-control.”

Through the Word of God

And 2 Timothy 2:1, "Be empowered by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. These are God’s words. “I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is powerful to build you up [in courage!] and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).

I compare the example of keeping the fire going in my marriage. My husband and I maintain our close relationship through going on date nights, overnights in the city, spending time together discussing our future, and God's word. The level of our intimacy is directly related to everything we deliberately do toward building it.

Here are some ways you can practically "Fan The Flame", the gift of God inside of you?

— Keep a prayer and devotional journal. Write down what God reveals to you in your quiet time.

— Be consistent in the Word. Read your Bible daily. Memorize scripture.

— Maintain accountability through Godly friendships. Be careful who influences you.

— Read books that will help you grow in your faith.

— Use worship music to edify and uplift you.

— Do not forsake the assembling of the brethren. Staying in community is important.

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