The Fire that Grows

The Fire that Grows

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 1:6-7

When my wife and I first began a romantic relationship, I poured myself into it, investing as much of my time and energy as I had to give. The relationship grew, benefitting from that kind of attention. Over time though, I got distracted. It wasn’t long after we were married that I began my downward spiral of addiction, which gradually consumed more and more of my time and energy, effectively starving my marriage. It wasn’t an affair with another person, but still, I pursued something other than my marriage at great cost to that relationship. I couldn’t have my addiction and a healthy marriage. I had to choose, feeding one and starving the other. I chose the wrong one and my wife and I both paid a heavy price.

In recovery then, I had to learn once again grow that relationship if I wanted it back. We were a mess, and to fix that mess I had to first remain sober, but then, I had to pour myself into the relationship. I don’t do it perfectly. I still fail at times. I do, however, attempt to daily invest in my relationship with my wife. A good marriage isn’t automatic after the wedding. A good marriage grows only when both partners feed it what it needs.

In today’s passage, Paul spoke of the Christian life in similar terms. He urged Timothy to fan the flames of faith. Yes, God began a good work in him, but that work wasn’t done. God reached out in love and then it was Timothy’s responsibility to respond appropriately, pouring time and effort into his relationship with the father. The life of faith wasn’t automatic once Timothy became a Christian. From that point on he was free to pursue his relationship with God, but he was still free to pursue his own will. He could choose between the new life and the old one, but he couldn’t have both. The life that grew was the one which he fed, so Paul commanded Timothy to fan the flames of faith.

We also have two fires which we may feed. Daily, we can invest our time and effort into our relationship with the father, or we can pursue our own way. Whichever life we feed is the one that grows. We cannot grow both simultaneously though. If we want to know life, joy, and peace, instead of misery, self-destruction, and disaster, then daily, we must fan the flames of our faith.

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