In 2nd Timothy 1:6 we find the phrase “Fan into flame the gift of God…” That phrase means to kindle afresh, stir up, rekindle, revive, stoke. Think of a campfire. A campfire needs to be continually fed with fresh wood because the tendency of a campfire is to go out. It burns the wood as fuel, and once the wood is consumed, it starts to die down. Pretty soon just the embers are glowing. There are no flames and it’s just about to go out. That has a beauty all its own at the end of the evening when it’s time to turn in. But if you want to generate heat or enjoy a crackling, blazing fire, then you need those flames burning brightly. That same idea applies in the spiritual world. General Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, put it this way: “The tendency of fire is to go out; watch the fire on the altar of your heart.” (General Booth) We must be careful to feed the spiritual fire that burns in our hearts. In verses 6 and 7 Paul writes about two very closely related elements of fire: the fire of the Holy Spirit, and the fire of the gift of the Holy Spirit. I believe both need to be tended to just like a campfire needs to be tended, rekindled and stirred up.
Timothy had received a spiritual gift when the Elders had laid hands on him and prayed over him. He needed to exercise his gift, rekindle it, fan the flame of it so that he could do the spiritual work God gave him to do. He needed to pay attention to that, just as we also need to pay attention to fanning the flame of our spiritual gift. Verse 7 then goes on to refer to the Holy Spirit himself as the gift of God – the gift God has given us. And that Holy Spirit provides the spiritual fuel so that we will burn brightly in power, in love and in self-discipline. The spiritual fire that burns in our hearts is fed by the fuel of the Holy Spirit.
When we distance ourselves or separate ourselves from the assembly of believers (from the Body of Christ, from being together in worship), we begin to grow spiritually cold. When we isolate ourselves for whatever reason, and, we’re off trying to live the Christian life on our own, that’s when the Spirit and his gift within us gets neglected. When we pull back or pull away from our Christian journey because we’re distracted by what’s happening in our lives, we can grow cold. The fire starts to die out in us. The Holy Spirit needs to rekindle that fire in our hearts. Together we burn spiritually hotter and brighter than we do on our own.
Ask the Holy Spirit to stir up our hearts, to re-kindle a spiritual fire in our hearts if it has started to die down. Ask the Holy Spirit to kindle afresh and fan the flame of the spiritual gift that he has given to each one of us for the common good of the Church. Remember: You cannot do spiritual work on your own or in your own strength or human power. You can only do the spiritual work of God in the power of the Holy Spirit.