For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now, at last, succeed in coming to you. 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: 9-12
With the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia, there is some similarity to the Cold War before the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In those days the term, “mutually assured destruction”, referred to the idea that if one “superpower” attacked the other, both nations would be essentially destroyed by the extensive nuclear arsenals.
In contrast, Paul often speaks of his prayer and thankfulness for others. In verse twelve he writes of the mutual strength and encouragement he both offers and longs to receive from the believers in Rome. Paul was not looking forward to just talking about the Bengals or politics or the weather although he had plenty of experiences with the weather and, according to his letters, he loved sports. Still, he was looking for something deeper in his interactions with the Romans.
A friend of mine once used the following tagline within his ministry – “we’re better together” – and he certainly is correct. The walk of the follower of Christ was not intended to be an isolated experience. There is great truth in the proverb that states “iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
As you read the verses in this passage, think about your personal relationships. Do you have a friend you look forward to seeing who goes beyond a surface relationship? How does it make you feel to think that there is someone who prays for you? Do you have a list of people you pray for consistently?
This is sometimes a challenge but go beyond your usual circles. Go outside your family. Seek out friendships that have the potential to be “mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.