"I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine." - Romans 1:1-12
Half the time we don't even know we're doing it. We're just being our unremarkable Christian selves. And if someone were to tell us that something we did or said made their soul wiser, their faith stronger, gave them a reason to start again, or conveyed God's grace to them like a holy sacrament, we'd be flummoxed. Maybe even embarrassed. After all, we're as fallible as the next person, not saints or deep thinkers, just us.
No, half the time we're not even in on the secret of just how many gifts we have and just how generously we give them away. Such calculation is rarely on our minds as we routinely encourage each other and routinely receive encouragement. As a colleague once noted, it's a team sport, our life in Christ, a pooling of strengths. It's mutual, Paul says, a communion, a single shared heart.
We may not always know that we're encouraging each other, but heaven knows. The hovering angels see. They bow in praise each time—mindful or unknowing—we put our arms around a flagging heart to say, "The road is long, dear sibling, dear friend; and times are hard. But we go on, for the sake of promised joy. And the best thing? You're beside me. And I with you. And in our sharing, God is near. Take heart. Take heart. Take mine."
For encouragement and for encouragers, I thank you, God. For one shared heart in Christ, I bow in praise.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.