I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.
–Romans 1:8

How do you know if you have saving faith? In Romans 1, Paul described some characteristics of genuine faith.

Paul said genuine faith encourages other people. He wrote to the Roman church, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.” Paul had never met the Christians in Rome, but their faith in God was known “throughout the whole world.” The Roman church was under persecution at this time. In AD 49, the Roman emperor Claudius expelled all the Jews who were living in Rome. That was the persecution the Roman Christians were beginning to experience. Yet their faith remained steadfast. They believed that God was able to take care of them in their present circumstances.

Do you believe that? Think about how ludicrous it is when we say, “God, I have faith that when I die, You are going to take care of my soul and welcome me into Heaven, but I am not sure You can take care of this problem I am facing at work right now.” Or, “God, I know that one day You will give me a brand-new body that is free from suffering and pain forever and ever, but I am not sure You can take care of this sickness that I am facing.” How ridiculous is it that we trust God for the hereafter, but we cannot trust Him for the here and now? These Roman Christians trusted God for the present as well as for the future.

The Roman Christians’ bold faith was spreading throughout the Roman Empire, so that other Christians, including the Apostle Paul, were being affected by the Roman Christians’ faith. Paul said, “I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established” (1:11). Was Paul saying he had the power to give them a spiritual gift? No, spiritual gifts come from the Holy Spirit. The word “impart” means “to exercise.” Paul was saying, “I want to be with you Roman Christians so I can use my spiritual gift to encourage you.” He continued, “That is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine” (1:12). Why did Paul want to go to Rome? He wanted to strengthen the Romans, but he also wanted to be strengthened by the Romans.

The Apostle Paul had down days just like you and I do. Paul also wrestled with unanswered prayer. Paul got discouraged just like we do. So he was saying, “I want to be around some faith-filled people so I can be encouraged.” That is why believers come together on Sundays. Do you know the primary reason we gather together in church? It is not just to worship God. It is also to encourage one another. As you trust God in your present circumstances, your faith will spill over to other people as well. Genuine faith encourages other people.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “(The) Just Live by Faith” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.