Mutual Encouragement

10 always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; 12 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. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles (Romans 1). 

Here is perhaps the greatest Christian the world has ever known, desiring with all his heart for mutual encouragement among other believers — and particularly, Gentiles.  There was a time in his life when this Pharisee of Pharisees absolutely hated Christians and wanted them all killed, who as a Hebrew of Hebrews abhorred Gentiles — and now, because of Jesus, he loves them both all wrapped into one!  He can’t wait to see them, and is frustrated for delays in doing so; he cannot wait to encourage them and bless them; he cannot wait to learn something more about Christ through them.

It makes me think of Christians who think the same way about Muslims, and I wonder if I could ever have that same attitude.  These believers have devoted their lives to make true believers from those followers devoted to a vain and empty religion.  They have given their lives to share the Gospel with people from which many among them would just as soon take those lives.

It also gives me pause to wonder how much of my own ministry has been to teach rather than to be taught, to listen rather than to speak, and to grant others the blessing of encouraging me, rather than robbing them of such a blessing by always desiring to be the encourager.

Lord, make our church devoted to reaching out even to those who hate us.  Make us realize how much we can be taught by those we are trying to teach.  Help us This Day both to bless, as well as to be blessed by others.  Amen.