Last Sunday, our pastor preached on 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24:
Do not quench the Spirit.
— 1 Thess. 5:19
He explained that to quench is here the same as we imagine water quenching. Water quenches our thirst, stifles an activity, even extinguishes a fire.
Sitting in my pew, I began to imagine a roaring fire. All around me, buckets of water overflowed with power, ready to dampen, cool, put out the flames. I shivered in apprehension.
But what if that fire isn’t something dangerous, but rather something good, holy, right, and exciting?
Maybe the fire in my heart is …
- a burden for souls,
- a guilt over bad habits,
- a compulsion to prayer,
- a longing for children,
- a calling to reach out in faith.
That’s the Holy Spirit of God’s work in my life, a fire He starts with a purpose. But at my feet are buckets of laziness, or selfishness, or materialism, or mindless entertainment, or irresponsibility. How easy to splash those on the flames, to intentionally or unintentionally squash the warmth of God’s working in my heart.
Then with a start, I realized I was sitting in a pew, not standing before a roaring inferno. And beside me were my children in various degrees of attentiveness to the sermon (*cough, drawing on the bulletin, cough*). And I wondered if I could quench the Spirit’s work in their lives, too.
Maybe the fire in their heart is displayed as…
- unusual energy,
- irrepressible talking,
- grand dreams,
- conflicting interests.
These four don’t always bounce along in the direction I expect. They rarely follow my plan for the day, let alone year. They tell all the secrets, hug the strangers, and obsess over the strangest interests.
They are weird sometimes.
But, could that weirdness be the Spirit’s working in their hearts, drawing them to interests and people and causes that will lead to His will for their lives? Or even more sobering, could those friends and causes and priorities be God’s will for their ministry right now in ways I don’t understand? How easy it would be for me to unintentionally splash cold water on the fire of their hearts with a cross look or discouraging word or burdensome task or unnecessary obstacle.
My youngest told me today that my superpower is micromanaging. I told him that’s what makes me uniquely qualified to keep up with him.
But I can’t micromanage the Holy Spirit’s work in my heart nor in the lives of those I love.
God, help me never quench Your Spirit within us.
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