It has been well said that ‘no one lives in a vacuum’ – we all interact with others and have some influence on each other. Many of us live in a community of fellow believers and meet at least one day each week, which is good.

This thought sprang from our reading of the first chapter of Romans today. Paul’s devotion to God comes over so plainly here: he does not need a fellow believer to testify to this. He writes, “God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you (Roman believers) always in my prayers …” (verses 9,10). His devotion to God is also shown outwardly by his attitude to fellow believers – and so is ours!

Paul had never been to Rome, he writes, “I long to see you …. that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith…”. So, when we come together, do we talk and act in ways which display our faith and our spiritual convictions to one another? Can our coming together be sometimes (often?) too much chit chat about this and that?

Paul declares, “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” (Gentile). He then states, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (verses 16,17).

His words are powerful in their simplicity. The word ‘Gospel’ means ‘Good News’ but do we take it for granted. The righteousness of God is revealed in it, this is the foundation of our faith – but faith is not static, it has to grow or it will wither.

May we all live – and grow – by faith and may we “be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” in a way that increases our devotion to him – and by “encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). Paul returns to this point later in Romans 13. We read, “…wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand … put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime …” (verses 11-13). Part of walking properly is to mutually encourage one another; may we all do that.