Ian Fleming’s fictional British Secret Service agent, James Bond 007, is well-known for many things, one of which is his martini order. Since 1964, Bond has ordered his martini to “shaken, not stirred.” According to the Official James Bond website, this particular phrase was selected in 2005 as one of the 100 most famous lines in films. I honestly have no idea what the difference is between a shaken and a stirred martini, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want either one. However, I have come across both of these adjectives in Scripture, and thought I might look at the difference between a shaken and a stirred relationship with Jesus. I believe, unlike James Bond, that I much prefer to be “Stirred, not shaken.”
King David affirmed, “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure” (Ps 16:8-9 NIV). This is the prayer of a man who knows where he stands, and he knows he is solely dependent on the Lord. He knows that as long as his eyes are fastened on God, he will not be shaken from his foundation. David states this confidence he has in God again when he says, “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken” (Ps 62:1-2 NIV). David also advises us to give our cares and burdens to the Lord because he will sustain us. “He will never let the righteous be shaken” (Ps 55:22 NIV).
What does it mean to be shaken? This word gives me a mental picture of an earthquake and buildings being shaken from their foundations, crumbling and falling to the ground in a heap of rubble. The Hebrew words translated in the NIV is “shaken” means “an instance of instability with sudden motion and loss of balance, which the resulting falling motion is then dangerous to the body” (DBL Hebrew 4573). Yes, sounds pretty much like a building collapsing into a pile of rubble in the middle of an earthquake. I do not want to be shaken down to my foundation in that manner. The good news is that as long as I keep my eyes and my focus on the Lord, I won’t be shaken, according to the psalms quoted above.
We don’t want to be shaken, so what does it mean to be stirred, and why would that be better than being shaken? Many things can be stirred up, most of which are not good. We can stir up trouble (Neh. 4:8), conflict (Prov 6:19), war (Ps 140:2), anger, (Prov. 15:1), and jealousy (1 Kings 14:22). But there are good things that are stirred up as well. The writer of Psalm 45 said his heart was stirred to speak poetic words of praise as he addressed the king. The Lord stirred up the hearts of the people who “came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God” (Haggai 1:14 NIV).
Think about another picture of stirring something up. If you have a fireplace (with real logs and kindling, not gas like we have) or a campfire and the fire is dying, you might use a fire poker to stir it up and bring the fire back to life. You might need to move things around or maybe add some kindling to the embers that are still glowing to get them to reignite before they are completely cold and extinguished.
Paul wrote to Timothy about his strong foundation in the faith, which was first cultivated in Timothy’s life by his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. Paul then told him, “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” (2 Tim 1:6 NIV). The Voice translation renders this verse as, “This is why I write to remind you to stir up the gift of God that was conveyed to you” (2 Tim 1:6 VOI).
Anazopyreo, the Greek word translated as “stir up” or “fan into flame,” means to “reactivate, formally fan a flame, inflame, rekindle” (DBL GK #351), or “to re-enkindle: --stir up” (Strong’s Greek #329). Paul told Timothy, "Do not let that fire die. It must not go out. Don’t ignore your foundation of faith or the gift of God has given to you. Keep it fresh, keep it alive. Keep stirring up and re-kindling that fire."
When Paul gave these instructions to Timothy, I wonder if he had in mind the instructions given to the priests in the book of Leviticus. God instructed Moses, “The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out” (Lev. 6:12-13 NIV).
Sometimes we may feel as if we are being shaken. We may feel like the very foundation of our life is crumbling beneath us, and we are about to end up as a heap of rubble on the ground, good for nothing but being swept out of the way. At times like these, it is vital that our faith and our hope in God is stirred up and rekindled, that our eyes are redirected onto Him rather than the earthquake going on around us. The fire of our faith and the gift God has given us must not be allowed to burn out. Stir it up. Rekindle the flame. Keep it burning. Keep your eyes on the Lord so the fire will not go out and you will not be shaken.
May we continually stir up the flames of faith, keep our eyes on the Lord, and never be shaken. Let James Bond go with “Shaken, not stirred.” We will be “Stirred, not shaken.”