So I'm reading through Romans and I came across a couple of verses I never really stopped to think about before:
"I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong — that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith" (Romans 1:11-12).
These verses caught my attention. For one, Paul says he longs to see these Christians. Wow! That's striking! At the time he said this, he had never been to Rome. As far as we can tell, he's never even met these Christians and yet he says he longs to see them! So I'm thinking to myself, "Are there a group of Christians I can honestly say I long to spend time with?" If not, what's going in my heart that I need to plead with God to address?
But there's more...and this is the takeaway I want you to ponder.
Paul longs to spend time with these Christians so that, "...you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith."
The purpose in spending time with believers is mutual encouragement. One goal to have in spending time with other Christians is mutual encouragement.
OK, friends, let's point out the obvious. Gossip, criticism, snarky attitudes, and complaining are NOT encouraging! Can we all agree to work on eliminating these things from our Christian gatherings?
But there's more. What does Paul say is to be the mode of mutual encouragement? It's not, "you're so awesome," or "I'm great, you're great, we're all great!" That's not how this encouragement is supposed to happen. Paul says, "...you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith."
The best way for mutual encouragement to happen in our Christian gatherings is for us to talk about our trust in Jesus Christ! Getting together to gawk at Christ is encouraging! Spending time together to make much of Jesus is encouraging! Hearing about how God is using his Word to bolster our trust in Christ is encouraging!
Let it be so in our gatherings!