In the 90’s, Ghana experienced some severe energy crisis where households went days without electricity. The worst times of the power cuts were in the evenings, as I was somewhat afraid of the dark! We used to have candles lighted in sections of the house to give some visibility, and just one candle going off makes such a difference to that section of the house. Due to my fear of the dark, a nightmare experience was to be alone when the only candle in that room went off!
Paul the Apostle said to the church in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit”. In this sense, Paul uses fire as symbolic of the Spirit of God and exhorts the church (believers) not to quench that fire. Fire gives light and visibility. The Spirit of God gives us that illumination and revelation of God and Christ Jesus through His Word. He also gives us a better view of who we are in light of God’s truth. Without the fire of the Holy Spirit, we cannot clearly perceive Christ in His glory, nor can a sinner perceive their wretchedness that brings them to repentance. The fire of the Holy Spirit gives us direction so that we wouldn’t be groping around in darkness and stumbling over any wave of doctrine that would look to sway us. That fire refines and purifies us and keeps us from going cold to the things of God, where we persevere in faith to the end. This fire also empowers us and keeps us fervent in the ministry or area of gifting entrusted to us. This burning fire of the Spirit within us makes us the light in the world, where people are drawn from darkness into the light of Christ.
On the other hand, where the Holy Spirit is quenched through scepticism, a lack of faith, a disregard for godliness and scriptural teachings, there is sadly no clear revelation of God and His Word. Darkness and confusion are found, as the ‘church’ then tries to define its own truth and light. Furthermore, without the fire, the church loses its passion and zeal for the things of God and His mission.
Contrary to that, Paul writes to Timothy and says to him, “fan into flame the gift of God…”. While this passage is an encouragement to use our spiritual gifts entrusted to us, it also gives us a picture of one who is desirous of keeping the fire of the Holy Spirit burning within them.
Be steadfast in faith, walk as led by the Spirit, enter the presence of God through prayer, and be opened to the things of the spirit with faith and discernment. Keep the fire burning.