The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:1-3)
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)
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)
I remind you to stir [fan] into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:6)
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)
The Scriptures describe many types of spiritual gifts. There are the seven traditional gifts of the Holy Spirit described in Isaiah 11:2-3. In addition, there are other spiritual gifts described throughout the New Testament (e.g., Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11). Through our Baptism, Confirmation, and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, God has given each of us unique spiritual gifts.
St. Paul tells his close companion, Timothy—and all of us—to fan into flame these gifts God has poured out (2 Timothy 1:6). 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. 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.” We can do things that can put out the fire or “quench” the work of the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). This includes different attitudes in our hearts that can act like a wet blanket. Paul warns Timothy against “a spirit of cowardice” (2 Timothy 1:7) that may be caused by 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 refrain from sharing our faith with others, because we don’t think we are trained enough or we don’t want to offend them. 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 or others, so we refuse to forgive.
Even if you feel hesitant, even if you make a few mistakes along the way, take some steps each day to 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.
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’ve given me so that I can fan them into flame. Help me to put aside any attitudes that can dampen the flames!”
Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing me to adapt meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. Take some time to meditate and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do you think God is trying to reveal to you through them?
2. The Scriptures at the beginning of the article describes various spiritual gifts. How would you describe the spiritual gifts God has given you? Give some examples of how you have used them?
3. In the article, we hear these words: “St. Paul tells his close companion, Timothy—and all of us—to fan into flame these gifts God has poured out (2 Timothy 1:6). How do you try to “fan into flame” the gifts God has given you? Is there more you can do
4. The article goes on to tell us that we can “quench” the work of the Spirit by what we do, or fail to do. What areas of your life, be they attitudes, resentments, angers, unforgiveness, or specific actions, can have a quenching impact on how you use your spiritual gifts? What steps can you take to eliminate or reduce these negative areas of your life and “Refrain from every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22)?
5. The article also encourages us to “take some steps each day to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead. Then watch the flame burn brighter.” What steps can you take to open yourself more to the Spirit’s lead each day?
6. Take some time now to pray for a fresh touch of the Spirit in your life so that you can “stir [fan] into flame the gift of God that you have” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Use the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point.