In our recent studies of 1st Thessalonians 5:12-18 we have encouraged you to answer the questions – Are you making progress in your church life and in coping with the normal circumstances of life? Now let’s study verses 19-22 and use what we learn to answer the question – Are you making progress in your personal growth in Christ?
Verse 19 says, “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.” This implies there is a fire present. It might be no more than glimmering coals. It might only be a flicker. Paul says, “Don’t let the fire go out.” Actually his words are not just encouraging preserving what’s there. He implies, “Don’t intentionally put out the fire the Holy Spirit has kindled in your heart.” If you look at this even closer, he is telling them to stop doing what they were doing.
To maintain a fire requires stoking it, adding fuel and making sure it gets some oxygen. In the spiritual realm stoking would involve interacting with fellow believers who can hold you accountable, or as Hebrews 10:25 says, “provoke one another.” Adding fuel would include regular exposure to the Word of God, the Bible.
Oxygen would be like praying for the wind of God’s Spirit to constantly move on your heart. Putting out the Spirit’s fire would involve choosing not to do these things, like avoiding responsible, accountable relationships or neglecting listening to, reading and meditating on God’s Word. It would also include not praying for a special ongoing work of the Spirit, or worse, telling God to get off your back. That’s both foolish and dangerous. Take a reality check.