“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 Tim 1:6-7).
My dear brothers and sisters, may the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ, the one who nourishes us with gifts and expects that we use them for the betterment of mankind, be with you all. The gifts inherent in us all are given to us by God our Father for service and for the glory of His name. He grants every person a spiritual gift in order to edify and build up one another. As children of God, we become a part of the body of Christ. Why is this significant? It is significant because every member of a body has a function to perform and a duty to fulfill.
Scripture tells us that "For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness" (Romans 12:4-8).
Paul also in his first letter to the Corinthians wrote concerning spiritual gifts, saying “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
Christians are therefore urged by St Paul with these words to have adequate knowledge of their particular gift. “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.” knowledge of something gives you control over that thing. When you know, you understand, and therefore can properly use it. We are strongly encouraged to have knowledge of the gifts, not to ignore them or be unwilling to learn about them and practice them. How then can you identify your gifts?
Know Your Gift
Your gift demonstrates God’s presence in you: We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.” The Holy Spirit Himself is a gift from God and he dwells in each and every one of us so that automatically becomes God's first gift to us.
Identifying your gift helps equip you to carry out the good work that God has assigned to you. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses helps you become more efficient. Your potential to bring glory to God is multiplied when you “identify your gift and begin to use it freely”, to serve others with the unique insights and skills that accompany your gift. The body of Christ needs you: God created you to bring Him glory. One way you can do this is to use your gifts to its full potential.
Christ has placed you exactly where you are meant to be and it is His pleasure that you are there as scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:18, “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.” God wants you to experience the fullness of His joy, as found in John 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” How then can we fan our gifts into flame?
Fan Your Gift Into Flame
The first step towards this is appreciating our particular gifts, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1Thessalonians 5:18). Recognize if you have stopped being thankful for what you have and stopped being grateful for all the blessings you enjoy. Sometimes we place our focus on what we do not have rather than what we are already blessed with.
We need to feed the fire of the Spirit with our own choices. We need to step out in faith and use these gifts. Every step of faith that we take is like the oxygen added to the fire to keep it blazing! Our effort, feeble though it may seem to us, works like a bellows blowing air onto the fire of God’s gifts, making them more and more effective. Yet there is “another side of the coin.”
If you feel like the fire in you is only a small flicker, and you have lost the zeal or fire that you had previously, it is important to know that you can always fan it back into a roaring flame once again. It is important to know that we need to always come before God and allow His power and the breeze of His Holy Spirit to fan our gifts into a fire, rather than striving by our own strength. You can re-ignite your fire by TRUSTING completely in the Lord.
Sin and selfish attitudes can quench your fire. Scripture says that God’s kindness leads us to repentance. When you start to thank God for everything, then conviction returns to your soul followed by a confession that cleanses you and takes away your burden. God draws near to the humble and repentant heart. Pray like David did in Psalm 139: 23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart!” Understand: Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
Sometimes our flame only flickers because we only approach God for “what He can do for us and not for who He is.” Seeking God for who He is is a sure way to fan our gift into flame.
You can still bring all your needs to Him, but remember to lay them at His feet and to seek God’s heart for your needs. Do not rely on your own understanding, but rely on God’s faithfulness.
When you get to know Him more, you will understand how He is working in your circumstances, not the way you want it but the way God wants it. To know Him better is to love Him. Give yourself completely to Him and then you will be filled with the fullness of Him. Trust in God at all times. Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all our ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your path.”
Keep The Flame Burning
One major way to keep the flame burning is by the Word of God and Prayer. In ancient Israel the priests were instructed not to let the fire on the altar go out as it says in Leviticus 6:9 “Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the burnt offering. The burnt offering shall be on the hearth on the altar all night until the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it.” Let us look at the fire on the altar as a symbol of our devotion to the Lord through which our gifts are being used to their full potential. Spiritual passion is not something to be treated lightly or taken for granted because it will grow cold if we fail to supply it with the necessary ingredient to keep it burning.
Secondly let us fuel the fire with the zeal for God as found in Romans 12:11-13 “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Let this be our fire wood, which has to be constantly filled. Let us continue to fuel the fire by feeding it with the Word of God and constant prayer. Let us keep ourselves open for the breeze of the Holy Spirit to fan the flames into a roaring fire.
In conclusion, I remind you to stir [fan] into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. So, go ahead and fan the flame of the Spirit. Let his fire burn away all doubt and hesitation, so that you can become a beacon of faith, hope, and love for the people around you – your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and all who come in contact with you.
“Lord Jesus, fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit and help me identify the gifts you have given me so that I can fan them into flame. Help me to put aside any attitudes that can dampen the flames!” Amen.
Peace be with you
† Alfred Adewale Martins
Archbishop of Lagos
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