Boy do I love hiking and camping. When the weather cools and I’m on break from teaching, I start getting the urge to get my gear out and start planning my next trip. One of the things I enjoy most about camping is sitting around a roaring campfire in the evening. It’s a great way to keep warm, keep the mosquitoes at bay, and keep myself occupied till it’s time to head off to sleep. The don’t call a campfire “hiker television” for nothing.
Now, I may sound like some kind of pyromaniac, but I love the whole process of building a fire. I gather tinder, some small twigs, and larger sticks to keep up the flames and set to work, and indeed it’s a lot of work. If you want to keep a good fire going for several hours, you must continually feed it more fuel. You constantly have to stoke the fire to make it grow and last.
It may appear a little ironic at first, but our faith is much like building a fire. Feed your faith and it continues to grow. Starve it and it will die out. Not only that, but it seems we have outside sources intent on putting out our faith and fire for God. The world around us is constantly trying to snuff out our ability to grow our faith with its temptations and doubt. But God wishes for us to treat our faith much like a fragile fire. We must tend it and care for it for it to grow.
In Paul’s writings to Timothy, we see some instruction about how to grow our faith. Paul is thankful for the examples young Timothy has had in his life and knows that they are the reason why Timothy is strong now. He writes:
“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)
Paul reminds Timothy here to continue to grow in the faith that was passed down to him by his mother and grandmother. He teaches him that we have a spirit of power, love, and self-control, not a spirit of fear. In fact, we have God’s perfect love that casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). God gave us a spirit of power as well, a power that never dies because it comes from him (Philippians 4:13). So how do we “fan into flame” our faith for God? Paul gives instructions on that as well. He says:
“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,”
“Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”
(2 Timothy 1:8, 13-14)
We are told here to hold fast to our testimony of Jesus Christ. Be in the Word daily, continually reminding yourself of the gospel and its power. We should be prepared to suffer for that gospel too. It’s not good enough to just sit back and keep quiet about your faith in God. We should be out in our world letting our light shine even if it means we suffer in the process. Finally, we’re told to mind the sound teaching we receive from God. Timothy received this teaching from his family and from Paul and we receive it from the study of God’s word today. We should be allowing God’s Spirit which lives in us to convict us and to strengthen our faith.
So get out and build a fire…a fire of faith for our almighty God!