Encouraged Together

 

          “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me” (Romans 1:11-12).

          The apostle Paul enjoyed and longed for the fellowship of his brothers and sisters in Christ. He sought this fellowship for the mutual encouragement it provided.

          He sought Christian fellowship for what he could give. Because he was an apostle who hungered for his brethren’s spiritual strength and stability, Paul desired to travel to Rome so he could lay his hands upon some, and they in turn could bless the church with greater wisdom, knowledge, faith, prophecy, and discernment (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11). (That the church in Rome needed spiritual gifts is a strong and clear indication no apostle—including Peter—had yet traveled there.)

          Though you are not an apostle with the power to bless others with miraculous spiritual gifts, you can have the same mindset of seeking to do all you can to edify your brothers and sisters in Christ. Doing whatever you can to stir them up to love and good works when you assemble (Hebrews 10:24-25) and doing what you can to teach and admonish them in song (Colossians 3:16) ought to be of intense concern to you. In addition, a focused obedience on the New Testament’s “one another” passages will keep you continually seeking to prefer (Romans 12:10), love (Romans 13:8), receive (Romans 15:7), care for (1 Corinthians 12:25), serve (Galatians 5:13), be kind to (Ephesians 4:32), forgive (Ephesians 4:32), exhort (Hebrews 3:13), and pray for (James 5:16) your brethren.

          Paul also sought Christian fellowship for what he could receive. Though a mighty soldier of the cross, Paul needed the encouragement and comfort that only genuine Christian fellowship can provide. The mutual faith they had in the one Lord and one God and Father of all, their one hope of eternal life given by the one Spirit in the one faith and spawned by their trusting, penitent submission to the one baptism had placed them in the one body, the church, the saved. The company of fellow soldiers, fellow bondservants, co-laborers in Christ was valued by Paul. He longed for the day when he could be with his Christian brothers and sisters in Rome.

          “Encouraged together” is the divine purpose of Christian fellowship. It is only realized when each member of Christ’s body seeks to give and receive encouragement when they are with one another.

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Author: jchowning

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