A man went to a blacksmith shop one morning to pick up a horseshoe that had been mended. When he started to pay for the work, he was told there would be no charge for the job. Insistently, he tried to force the money into the blacksmith’s hand. The blacksmith’s reply is worth remembering. Again refusing payment, he said, Ed, can’t you let a man do something now and then – just to stretch his soul? What a provocative thought! Does a man need to stretch his soul? But how is it done?
Communion with God stretches the soul.
Paul spoke of some whose souls were diseased and shriveled because their worship was defective (1 Cor. 11:30). A proper sense of reverence and awe in the presence of God expands our spiritual perception. Large souls are developed through long hours of prayer, praise, worship, and devotion. Our souls need to thirst for God (Ps. 42:1-2; Matt. 5:6).
Bible Study stretches the soul.
The study of the Bible is a broadening experience. We need to be like those Bereans who searched the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11) and the Psalmist who treasured God’s word in his heart and meditated upon God’s word (read Psalm 119, yes all of it!).
Forgiveness stretches the soul.
Spiritual health is conditioned upon our willingness to forgive. Jesus said, “pardon and you will be pardoned” (Luke 6:37), and Paul wrote, “forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you” (Col. 3:13). Resentment, hatred, and grudge-bearing are constricting bands that pinch and squeeze the soul. The miniaturization of the soul takes place when one refuses to forgive.
Service stretches the soul.
Service is the crux of Christianity. Jesus came not to be served but to serve (Matt. 20:28). Jesus told his disciples that “whoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matt. 20:27). The extent of our service is the measure of our soul.
May we strain to enlarge our souls to the maximum capacity so that we may be stretched to the dimensions of God!