Summary: It is important to tend to your spiritual health or you can get burned out in your faith.
"Untended fires soon become just a pile of ashes." I came across this quotation some time ago and it always resurfaces in my memory when we go camping and make a campfire. The last time we went camping was in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We built a nice warm fire in the cool of the evening and roasted marshmallows. After awhile, the fire began to grow smaller, and smaller, until there were nothing but glowing embers. Sometimes I would take a stick, poke around in the fire a little, and there would be a flame again. It wasn't until we put fresh firewood and stirred up the embers that we had a nice warm fire again.
Paul told Timothy, "I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you." (2 Tim 1:6). Sometimes we need to be revitalized. When we dwindle down to glowing embers, it's time to do something. If not, the smoldering embers will soon go out. I would like to spend a moment reflecting on the imagery that Paul uses here in 2 Timothy and take it a step further.
Flame and Fellowship.
I still remember the campfires from Bible Camp and how a piece of burning wood might fall over to one side by itself. It usually burned for a little while, but would eventually go out long, long before the main fire went out. That reminds me of this passage in Hebrews: "consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another" (Heb 10:24-25).
There is a reason Jesus purchased the church with his blood (Acts 20:28). There is a reason the church is called a "body" (1 Cor 12:12-27). There is a reason we are called "brothers" and "sisters" (1 Tim 5:1-2). If we leave the collection of burning logs, we will quickly grow cold and our flame could go out. Intimate support and fellowship with the brethren is important. Do you feel burned out? Maybe it is because you have strayed away from the campfire, or you keep it at arms distance.
Consider the words of an inspired wise man: "Two are better than one because them have a good return for their labor. For if either of them fails, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together, they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart (Eccl. 4:9-12)."
Flame and Food.
You must have a fire if you are going to cook your food. Uncooked food can cause disease and even death. So we must stir up a flaming passion for nourishment.
Jesus said, "I am the bread of life. This is the bread which came down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die, if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh. It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life (John 6:48-63)."
The words of Jesus are the bread of life that sustains us spiritually forever. Do you have trouble remembering to pray? Is it hard just to force yourself to go to worship at the church building? Do you feel burned out, faint, and weak? Maybe you have not been eating properly. Do you have a regular diet of the bread of life, the word of God? If you only eat once a week on Sunday (and that is often not even a full meal), is it any wonder you lack spiritual energy and vitality? Is it any wonder you feel like a spiritual anorexic?