It has been said that ‘no one lives in a vacuum’ – we all interact and influence one another. Some of us live in a close community of fellow believers, meeting at least one day each week, which is wonderful. The only time it is not so is when there is discord, which causes hurt. True love will find a way to heal the discord. This thought sprang from our reading of Romans 1 today. Paul’s devotion to God comes over clearly: 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, yet 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 in ways which display our faith and our spiritual convictions to one another? Can our coming together be sometimes 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” (or Gentile, namely anyone who is not a Jew). 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 can we become so familiar with it that we take it for granted? The ‘righteousness of God’ is revealed in it, this is the foundation of our faith, and faith is not static, but must become stronger or it will wither.

May we all be among those who live and grow by faith and may we “be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” in a way that will increase our devotion to him – and, as we read in Hebrews, by “encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (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.