Fan the Flame!

James 1:17
Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Among certain Christians, there is a frequent temptation to downplay or even denigrate the good qualities of those thought to be outside the range of God’s grace.  One can hear frequent appeals to Isaiah’s remark that those who trust in their own righteousness to justify them before God were trusting in “filthy rags.”  And, to be sure, there is no way to compel God to accept us by earning brownie points.  But at the same time, we have to remember that even in the worst people the Holy Spirit is at work, drawing them to Christ’s saving grace, and that the glimmers of goodness we see there are gifts from God which he means to fan into flame, not quench.  Today, if you see goodness in another, praise God for it, even if the other person has a long way to go.  A great forest fire can come from a single match if you tend the flame and fan it.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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