This passage, read with the previous thirteen, emphasises that true, sound theology blesses the person and all those around them. This is an essential truth: does our worship of God and our seeking to serve Him, generally bring joy and blessing to those nearest to us and those we meet regularly-neighbours, colleagues and so on? When I observe something take place which blesses not only the recipient but those around them, I see the touch of God. There have been some extraordinarily complex situations which it has been nigh impossible to see a way through which God has used to increase faith. Remember that faith is a gift from God. Yes, it is a spiritual muscle in that the more we exercise it the stronger it becomes. George Muller started and ran an orphanage, which cared for 10,000 children before it closed, because he wanted to grow his faith. What are you doing to increase your faith? This is good, sound, practical advice from Paul. It encapsulates not only the behaviour we are called to encapsulate, but also the willing, nay joyful sacrifice of the believer who completely trusts their Saviour. Paul was no masochistic martyr, but he recognised that suffering for the Gospel would increase his joy! The great Richard Wurmbrand, imprisoned by the Soviets because he was a church leader in Romania, used to dance for joy in his small cell in between periods of torture. It is so difficult to understand, because society has influenced us to seek security, acceptance and tolerance. The question may be asked: 'Why do we not experience joy as fully as we have been promised?' One answer to this is that we are always on the back foot, unwilling to go through tunnels unless we can be completely sure of what is at the end. Grow the muscle of faith, my friend!
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