“Stir into flame the gift of God that you have.” (2 Timothy 1:6)

Stop, drop, and roll. For decades, this fire safety mantra has been taught to schoolchildren so that they can have a quick way to remember what to do if their clothes ever catch fire. Fire needs fuel and heat, but without air, it can’t burn for long. So one of the best ways to put out a fire is to get rid of its source of oxygen.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have St. Paul telling Timothy—and all of us—to fan into flame the gifts God has poured out. Through the Holy Spirit, God has enkindled in each of us unique spiri­tual gifts. But in order for them to really catch fire, we need to partici­pate. We need to feed the fire of the Spirit with our own choices. 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.

What might put out that fire? Different attitudes in our hearts can act like a wet blanket. Paul warns Timothy against fear and shame, but we may struggle with others as well. We may feel led to share a word of encouragement with a friend, but worry about how that friend might receive it. We may doubt that we’ll get much out of prayer one morning, so we skip it. We may allow a mood or self-righteous thought to over­shadow our peace in Christ. We may feel that we have the right to hold some resentment against our spouse, so we refuse to forgive.

Even if you feel hesitant, take a step and follow the Holy Spirit’s lead. Then watch the flame burn brighter! The more you seek the Lord and practice using his gifts, the easier it will become—and the more you will be encouraged by the results. 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 hope for the people around you.

“Holy Spirit, help me identify the gifts you’ve given me so that I can fan them into flame. Help me to put aside any attitudes that can dampen the flames!”

Psalm 123:1-2; Mark 12:18-27