“I said, ‘I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.’ But when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased. My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue…” ~ Psalm 39:1-3 NIV
Years ago I encountered a newly Christian with a passionate desire to serve and speak of God. The fire he had within was very expressive. A friend and I enjoyed conversations we would have with him, and God used him to reveal to us a passion in serving God. Growing up in a Christian environment can sometimes make my Christian faith stay in a luke-warm path because of the same teachings I hear and my lack of motivation. But after getting to know this friend, I got excited about God for some reason. It was a new passion.
Well, it didn’t last. My fire for God died down when I returned to the States after studying in South Korea for a semester. It didn’t happen instantly. It took time. When I had come back, I searched for ways to serve God, to speak of my experience abroad, and just to speak of the Lord. I guess not many people were excited as I was, and that affected me to the point that my fire eventually distinguished. I became somewhat silenced which led to frustration which led to anger which led to judgments and an attitude to the place and people that were around me.
There are dangers into having our fire for God distinguished. We can run into an apathetic approach towards reading the Word, praying, etc. A judgmental attitude of both believers and nonbelievers can arise. Fear! Fear is a big one. Even the lack of motivation. Some people might not understand our fire for God and almost deny its power, or in other words, God’s power. Fortunately, the Lord instills in us a passion so great that not even silence can contain it. Jeremiah, who dealt with persecution, describes his passion in chapter 20 verse 9, “But if I say, ‘I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot” (NIV). The fire can stem from injustice, our love for God, our anger towards sin, from the Holy Spirit. And it cannot be contained. No matter how much we are silenced, we cannot remain silent.
Acts 4:20 says, “For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (NIV). My friend whom I mentioned above was a fairly new Christian when I met him. And I could tell that what the Lord had revealed to Him gave him a fire that he could just not keep to himself. He had to share about God no matter what. Even for David in the verses mentioned above, he talks about his time of silence. He tried it, and he just couldn’t do it.
Whether we have been silenced about our faith or have chosen to remain quiet, we cannot let our fire be distinguished. What’s wrong with us wanting the fire to grow stronger and stronger? Nothing! That is what God wants. We must feed the fire with the Word, with prayer, with anything that is of God. Just as Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:6-7, I will say it to you: “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (NIV).