“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 did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God” (2 Tim. 1:6–8).1
1 Corinthians 9:22–‐23 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings.
Paul clearly indicates a definitive action. To fan the flame implies we must get close to the fire! When we commence the pursuit of revival, we are declaring war against principalities and powers. Subsequently, we should be prepared for battle with the powers of darkness. The time has come for a thorough reformation to take place.
When this reformation begins, the spirit of prayer will actuate every believer, and will banish from the church the spirit of discord and strife. . . . A revival and a reformation must take place under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation are two different things.
Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from the spiritual death. Reformation signifies reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. Reformation will not bring forth the good fruit of righteousness unless it is connected with the revival of the Spirit. Revival and reformation are to do their appointed work, and in doing this work they must blend.
What does it take to fan the flame and keep the spirit of revival and reformation strong? An upward connection, an outward commitment, and an inward control.
1. Upward connection. On our own, we are totally incapable of remaining faithful to anyone or anything, not even ourselves. The greatest gift each of us receives as new children in Christ is the abiding presence Christ sent to be among us, the Holy Spirit. Two images always seem to accompany the Holy Spirit—fire and wind. Just as all fire needs oxygen, so the flames of faithfulness within us cannot keep going without the breath of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s continued presence acts like a bellows to the flames that we tend in our hearts. If we ignore consistent Bible study, regular prayer, and witnessing, we shut down our own air supply and quench the flame of the Spirit.
2. Outward commitment. It is not enough simply to maintain our relationship with God. Until we open ourselves up to others and let the warmth of this fire spread through our family, friends, church, and community in acts of selfless service, the flames will gradually die out. We need to set Jesus’ benevolence and goodness as our example.
3. Inward Control. Even those who acknowledge the power of the Holy Spirit and encounter others with loving attitudes may gradually lose their sparks. To avoid becoming spiritually bland, we are challenged to practice a self-disciplined lifestyle. Paul, in his letter to Timothy, testified to the comfort daily prayer brought him. This was a discipline he practiced whether among friends or shut up in a lonely prison. Prayer is not always easy, and sometimes our own tongues cannot express the needs and longings of our spirits. For this reason, we also need the discipline of the sanctified life. We need to keep the balance of our mental, physical, spiritual, and social faculties—remembering that “the body is the only medium through which the mind and the soul are developed for the building of character.”
4 Spiritual disciplines are essential, and anything that dampens the Spirit’s influence must be eliminated. No flame, no matter how well fueled, will continue to burn without the input of a careful prod here and a push there. We must be willing to work our fires if we would keep them burning brightly. Extract from “Fan the flames Ministry”