Following Jesus is not easy.
He is perfect.
I am far, far, far, from it. And yet, I still long to be like Him. I’m supposed to be more like Him (2 Corinthians 2:15). Unfortunately, what I’ve found is that my seasons of spiritual progress are sometimes followed by a time of spiritual drought.
So then, how do I keep the fire of my faith hot?
The apostle Paul implores Timothy,
…fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (2 Tim. 2:6,)
I note how Timothy’s relationship with Christ has been hugely influenced by Paul. To put it another way, Timothy’s capacity to stoke the fire of his faith appears to be connected to his relationship with Paul. This tells me that if I want to prevent the fire of my faith from diminishing, I ought to make sure I have a “Paul” in my life. Yes, spiritual progress will be much more difficult if I choose to go at it alone.
There’s a story of D.L. Moody visiting a leading citizen of Chicago to encourage the man to follow Christ and to engage a fellowship of Christians. In the room where they met was a coal-burning fireplace. The man suggested to Moody that he could be as good a Christian outside of the church as he could inside. Moody said nothing, got up from his seat and, using tongs, plucked a piece of coal from the fire and set it down by itself. The two men then sat in silence and watched the smoldering piece of coal go out. The man got the point.
This story certainly matches my experience. The times when I have noticed advances in my faith and increases in my devotion to Christ have been those seasons when I have had a “Paul” to observe me, encourage me, counsel me, and correct me. Growth has been most evident when I have meaningfully connected myself with other followers of Christ.
Accordingly, I urge you: Seek a “Paul” to help stoke the fire of your faith in Christ.
Paul’s second letter to Timothy is among my most favourite texts of Scripture. With tender earnestness, Paul reminds Timothy of his spiritual resources and his spiritual priorities. Growth in grace is obtainable. It was for Timothy, and it is for you and I.
Over the next few weeks, you can track with me through this letter via this blog and by listening to the corresponding audio messages. The message embedded below was delivered at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well on Sunday, April 19, 2009.
I would love to hear from you. Tell me how you have benefited from having a “Paul” in your life, and /or how you have benefited by being a “Paul” to another.