For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you ~ that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. Romans 1:11-12
I have found that mutual encouragement is a rare thing. Encouragement alone is hard enough to find, but it does usually exist in one-sided relationships. One person is spiritually strong; the other weak. The strong one gives of himself, speaks words of faith, and the weaker one takes it in like a thirsty sponge. The weak person has little to give in return except gratitude.
Mutual encouragement happens when both people live by the strength of their faith in Christ. Each has tasted self-sufficiency and forsaken it. Each has leaned with all their might on the resources of Christ and found Him, daily, to be enough. Their faith may be tenuous but by the mutual sharing of their journeys, they are strengthened to remain steadfast.
Perhaps you know what it is to be dragging, to be so low that you wonder if Jesus can, and will, sustain you. Yet, you pour your heart out in prayer, find a Word to stand on, and walk amidst great resistance. Think about this. There is another soul like you; one who knows what it is to press in for the spiritual grit necessary to endure suffering. The two of you could benefit from time together. As you both share your story, resolve will be doubled.
There was a time when Paul needed little encouragement. He was the law and wielded great power. He was cruel and unbending. What a transformation Christ wrought. Paul was laid to the ground on the Damascus road and learned humility. He became acquainted with physical and emotional limits. Softened, he reached out to the church for strength and a kind of fellowship that was rooted in vulnerability and mutuality. It became him. For each of us who are prone to be lone rangers, invulnerable to the expression of need for another, let us think twice about what we’re missing.
Whom do I need today? Who needs me? Send me where it’s mutual. Amen