Summary: 1 Thessalonians 5:19 says “Do not quench the Spirit.” How do we obey that? How do we stay hungry and thirsty for God? How do we feed the flame of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
INTRODUCTION… The Word Quench (etymonline.com/search?q=quench)
Some words in the English language are just weird or sound strange. “Nugget” is a weird word. “Fungus,” “kerfuffle,” “cattywampus,” are also weird words. Some words sound bad but aren’t. “Formication,” “squelch,” and “chunk” all just sound bad. I think that is also true for one of the words that we find in the middle of the passage we are going to read today. The word is… “quench.” It just sounds bad. If you call someone a “quench” that sounds bad. Or you get stuck in a “quench” and you just know you are never getting out. I got sick and all I could do was “quench.” It is just a bad sounding word no matter how you use it. And yet, it is not a bad word. It is actually a simple word.
The word quench means to satisfy one’s thirst by drinking. It also means to extinguish a fire. The two are related in my mind in that when I am hot and sweating, the drink cools me down just as a fire can be cooled down. It comes from a middle english word ‘quenchen’ which means to “extinguish or put out heat, light, fire, desire, hunger, or thirst.” Seems pretty related to “drenching something in water.” Again, not a bad word, but a simple one.
The word behind “Quench” is used 8 times in the New Testament.
One of the times caught my eye. I like Ephesians 6:15 which says, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one…” The ‘extinguish’ there in that verse is the same word as ‘quench.’ Because I watch too many movies with swords and shields and arrows and battles, I know that if you soak your shield in water or cover your shield in leather soaked in water, flaming arrows snuff out when they attack you. We see flaming arrows (or darts) being put out. Quench is the removal of fire.
Enough of that… let’s read the passage today and see what ‘quench’ has to do with 1 Thessalonians 5… and us!
READ 1 THESSALONIANS 5:12-28 (ESV)
We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. 25 Brothers, pray for us. 26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. 27 I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers. 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
The Apostle Paul is closing out his first letter to the Thessalonians and as normal, he has some rapid fire commands, advice, suggestions, and all around good description of boundaries for us to follow. In his saying, ‘goodbye’ to the Thessalonians, he wants to lay out good solid one time shots for them to encourage their faith and strengthen them. That is his whole purpose… to encourage and strengthen. So, that is my purpose today as well… to encourage you and strengthen you.
In the middle of these verses, in verse 19, the Apostle Paul says simply, “Do not quench the Spirit.” That verse jumped off the page at me and burned me a little. The verse has a lot of meaning simply because he uses the word “quench.” There are two ways that you and I can take this verse and I don’t think either of them are wrong.
The first way is that Paul is admonishing us not to get rid of the hunger and thirst of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Hungering and thirsting after God is a good thing. Matthew 5:6 tells us that a person who ‘hungers and thirsts’ after righteousness is blessed and satisfied. In John 6:35, Jesus Christ tells us that when we hunger and thirst after Him, we will not be hungry and we will not be thirsty… we are to seek after Him. Hungering and thirsting after God is a good thing. Paul says in verse 19 that we should not get rid of the hunger and thirst of the Holy Spirit in our lives.