"When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours."Romans 1:12 NLT
Paul understood the basic principle of life together. It isn't one-sided. It isn't a one-way street. So often we go to church and like baby birds with our mouths open wide, we want the service to feed us. We cry out for the music to be just right, the preacher to be on point, the atmosphere to move us, the people around us to be supportive, caring and inviting. We don't just want it...we EXPECT it.
And when the minister is a little off his game, or the sound system doesn't work quite right, or the band is a little flat on that last song (or God forbid they sing that tune I don't like because it reminds me of that other church I used to go to), we leave disappointed, frustrated, unfulfilled. And for some, eventually, they just leave. They look for another nest where the Mother Bird can feed their greedy desires.
Paul had a slightly different take. Yes, he wanted to encourage the brothers and sisters in Rome and their faith journey. He wanted to give to them a word of hope, a morsel of faith, an encouraging word. But he also wanted to receive. Paul also needed some encouragement. He trusted that those in the church would have the insight, maturity and the depth of faith to extend a hand of love to him as well. Paul knew that a healthy church community was able to receive AND give.
Here's a personal request today: Consider for a moment that someone around you, sitting in your pew, your row, your section, might just need a word of encouragement. Consider for a moment that someone might be experiencing a dark time in their life and might be hoping that some brother and sister in the faith is able to reach out, offer a word of love and care without expecting anything in return.
Dear God, open our eyes to those who need encouragement. May we be instruments of grace to others this day. AMEN.