The fire on the altar of Godís house, the temple, burnt continuously (Leviticus 6:13). It never went out.
The altar was the place where Israelís priests offered sacrifices (gifts to God). The fire there burnt both day and night to show that the service to God was continuous.
Christians also offer a sacrifice to God: they offer their bodies as a living sacrifice (12:1). In other words, they do not live to please themselves or to satisfy the desires of their bodies. Instead, they choose to live in the way that pleases God. As a result, they do his work and they show his love and his goodness to other people in our world.
That sacrifice too, is like a fire that burns continuously. It does not, of course, burn in a Christianís body, but in his spirit. That is what Paul seems to refer to in the middle phrase of Romans 12:11. In the original language, he speaks about a spirit that is Ďburningí. That fire means a Christianís eager desire to serve God, that is, to work for God. That desire should never stop. Rather, a Christian should have, deep inside him, a continuous desire to do what God wants. That desire should constantly direct his thoughts, words and actions.
Fire can be a terrible thing, because of its power to destroy. However, this desire is like a fire that does not destroy (compare Exodus 3:1-3). Rather, like the power of love, it burns but it makes our spirits stronger (Song of Solomon 8:6-7). In fact, this desire has a very strong connection with love. It is Godís love that first creates this desire inside us. Then, this desire becomes an expression of our love for God. In addition, this desire cause us to show love to other people (Mark 12:29-31; 1 Corinthians chapter 13; 1 John 4:7-21).
Next part: Joy during troubles (Romans 12:12)
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© 2018, Keith Simons.