1 Thessalonians 5:19 – Do not quench the Spirit.
Devotion: The spring breeze stirs within my kids the desire to fly kites. My children start singing the popular musical song, Lets Go Fly a Kite, as they frantically search for last year’s racer or beg for a new box kite. We run across the street to the open field where we launch our light frames of plastic and paper aerials into the sunny sky with the tails whipping in the wind. The joyfulness continues until lines tangle, tails tear, or the wind stops blowing. It is the informal start to our summer fun. Nothing ends the amazement of loftiness like malice and mischief, like the time my brother shot my kite out of the sky with his bow and arrow.
In the church, nothing squashes a good idea like immediate criticism by someone called to love. How many lofty ideas have started to spread their wings in the springtime of life only to be shot down by the flaming arrows of “friendly fire”? How many people’s passion for the church have been snuffed out by those called to fan the flames of faith?  Or how many youth have their spiritual excitement extinguished by the deluge of ridicule or unwelcome comments by older generations? Too often the spark of the Spirit is quenched by the drop of fire retardant ridicule from super-tankers in the sky attempting to prevent a forest fire. Once the Spirit is suddenly cooled, the faithful lose heart and heat for the cause of Christ. It is difficult – but not impossible – for God to fan into flames the passions and desires of the Spirit after they have been suppressed.
Paul wrote the Thessalonians: Do not quench the Spirit. Do not stomp out the creative spark and contagious energy in the congregation by disrespect, criticism, and complaining. The Spirit is the giver of life which enflames believers to greater devotion, dedication, and service for Christ in the world. Paul appealed to the church to exercise fifteen virtuous acts that give lift to other people’s faith, passions and ideas. The lifting up of one another will fill the sky with the banners of faith for the entire world to see. Then, we will be more like Jesus who was careful to fulfill Isaiah 42:1-4: A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.
Prayer: Father, I confess that I’m more likely to shoot people’s ideas down than lift them higher. Forgive your church for its unwarranted criticism and cynicism by the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ. Send your Spirit to sweep through your congregations with fresh wind that lifts us higher and higher, until the entire world sees your glory in the heavens. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Prayer Exercise: “Anointing for Healing,” page 150, in Patricia D. Brown, “Paths to Prayer: Finding Your Own Way to the Presence of God,” (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003). ISBN: 0-779-6565-0. Copyright © 2003 by Patricia D. Brown. All rights reserved.