Updated: Aug 1, 2021
I recently saw a story that spoke of a hot coal from a fire, when pulled from the fire and set aside, it begins to lose heat and stop burning. The same coal, when it has lost its heat, becomes hot again when placed back in with the other coals. This story is a great illustration of a Christian who tries to live outside of the church.
After reading that story, the wasn’t the coal that kept my mind occupied, it was the fire itself. Growing up with a wood stove in our home and enjoying plenty of bonfires outside taught me a lot about fire. Every fire is different. Each fire has its own nature. A fire starts and burns at its own pace. Once the fire gets burning hot, it’s much easier to maintain the flames. Until it gets hot, though, a fire needs the right care to keep it burning bright. With experience, knowing what the fire needs, and when, gives you a better chance of a successful fire. (1)
There have been times when I’ve tried to stoke a fire before it had a nice bed of coals. I poked at it to make the flames bigger, but almost completely extinguished the fire in the process. Why would I do that? Because I know fires right? It can be especially annoying when other people poke at my fires and almost put them out. They just walk up and poke at it, before they really know if it needs to be tended. Why? Because they know fires too, right? (2)
Have you ever been so motivated and ‘on fire’ for something, but someone does or says something that squashes your flame? Maybe they didn’t have ill intent and were just trying to help because they thought they knew what was needed. They didn’t take time with you to find out where you were, or what you were actually on fire about, or even why. They were hoping to stoke the fire to make it burn brighter. Even with good intentions, they may have put a major damper on your flames. Have you ever done this? I know I have. (3)
Without being a fireman myself, I can only speculate on this next part. I believe before a professional fireman messes with a flame, either to put it out, or to make it bigger, they examine the nature of the fire. What is burning and why is it burning? They need to know how to approach a fire, what to do about it, and when. Do you throw water on a grease fire to put it out? Do you know what is on fire and if it’s stable enough to poke at? It’s good to know the NATURE of what’s on fire, AND why it is burning, BEFORE you mess with it. Poking at a flame without knowing these things could bring unintended results, some good, but others can be very bad.
Some fires are started for pleasure (bonfires) and some for evil (arson). Others are started for necessity (heating a house or cooking), or to stop fires that are burning out of control (wild fires). Some fires need to be put out immediately, while others are left to burn till what’s burning is gone.
I think the wisdom of a fireman applies when you see someone on fire for the Lord. BEFORE you offer your two cents, take the time to find out the NATURE of what is burning AND the reason for the fire. It is too easy to just drop an opinion on someone because we think we know what’s best. In doing so we can extinguish a person’s flame instead of stoking it. A well-timed word of encouragement is good, but sharing an opinion without understanding is foolish. (4)
Jesus is the perfect Fireman. He knows the NATURE of what’s burning, the REASON for the fire, WHEN to START it, when to EXTINGUISH it, and what it NEEDS to meet its purpose. IF only we knew what He knows. Will we take the time to pray, and ask for wisdom, BEFORE we start poking at fires with only our own understanding? (5)
(1) 2 Timothy 1:6
(2) Proverbs 18:13
(3) 1 Thessalonians 5:19
(4) Proverbs 25:11 vs Proverbs 18:2
(5) Proverbs 17:27
Peace and joy be with you.
Kevin Weston 01-10-2021