First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we need each other. We were never meant to go on this journey alone. Yes, in truth once redeemed, we are never alone because God is with us and He will never forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). He is not only with is but within us and He prays for us before the Father (1 Corinthians 3:16, Romans 8:34). But we also need one another. Our relationships bring us closer to God and reveal Him to the world.
Why are our relationships with one another so important? Why do we need other Christians in our lives? First, we pray for one another. In verses 8-10 Paul says,
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you
Prayer works on many levels for us. Prayer not only strengthens our relationship with God, but it keeps us in mind of one another. We are aware of each other, our struggles and our joys and knowing that we are praying for each other reminds us, we are not alone, we are not the center of the universe, we are in this with someone else and for a greater purpose than our own needs and our own glory. What does prayer do? What does fellowship with one another do? Verses 11-12 read,
For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours
The physical closeness of fellowship and serving side by side allows us to pray for one another but it also encourages and gives us opportunities to gift one another spiritually. I believe this not only means laying on of hands to release the anointing of gifts such as described in 1 Timothy 13-16, which reads
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
But also, that as we use our gifts with one another we give them to each other and encourage and strengthen each other. I may use my gift of prophecy to encourage a sister and my sister may use her gift of intercessory prayer to strengthen me. My brother may use his gift of healing to heal me and in my praise report, he is edified, the whole church rejoices and may join me in my praise. Our faith mutually, that is reciprocally and communally encourages one another.
Paul was not able to go to the Roman Christians and spend the physical time he longed to spend with them, his letters and prayers would have to be enough for the time being but he knew there was greater benefit in his personal presence than in his letters. A letter is a one-way communication, a response which must continue without the give-and-take of the other respondent. A letter is good, but a visit is so much better.
Paul wanted to reap a harvest in Rome, he wanted to preach the gospel, which was after all his gift, and be able to have the conversation that was not possible in a letter or a greeting sent from a friend. He encouraged the church that they as he should not be ashamed of the gospel, though it could bring them persecution or separation from their families, and division from their communities. Verse 16 reads,
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
The Gospel is the power of God for salvation! We Christians do not live as we live in order to have a tighter more exclusive club, we do not live in a community that shelters itself from the persecution and ridicule of the world. We live as we do because the world needs Jesus! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (John 3:16-17).”
We live, we serve, and we love because God loves us and He loves the world. We want what He wants which is that none should perish but all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9). How does living life together affect that? Verse 17 says,
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.
God’s righteousness revealed brings about repentance and salvation. It is not revealed through our self-righteousness or piety but our faith, Our faith is revealed by how we live, how we respond to life and how we respond to people. We are not good and then have faith, it is faith which provides the righteousness of Christ. It is our faithful response to all life’s circumstances which reveal faith and glorify God. If our own good works are glorified, that is not faith that is trying to earn the impossible. No one is encouraged that Jesus saves by us being overtly pious; people are saved when they see the love of God manifested in His awesome grace and mercy.
Do not miss out on the opportunities in living life with your fellow believers. You miss out on personal growth, chances to spread the Word of God, and a major part of what it means to have an abundant life.