I’m encouraged every time I visit the fitness center near our house. In that busy place, I’m surrounded by others who are striving to improve their physical health and strength. Posted signs remind us not to judge each other, but words and actions that reveal support for others’ conditioning efforts are always welcomed.
What a great picture of how things should look in the spiritual realm of life! Those of us who are striving to “get in shape” spiritually, to grow in our faith, can sometimes feel as if we don’t belong because we’re not as spiritually fit—as mature in our walk with Jesus—as someone else.
Paul gave us this short, direct suggestion: “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). And to the believers in Rome he wrote: “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up” (Romans 15:2). Recognizing that our Father is so lovingly gracious with us, let’s show God’s grace to others with encouraging words and actions.
As we “accept one another” (v. 7), let’s entrust our spiritual growth to God—to the work of His Spirit. And while we daily seek to follow Him, may we create an atmosphere of encouragement for our brothers and sisters in Jesus as they also seek to grow in their faith.
Lord, help me today to encourage others along the way. Guide me to say what will not discourage but will spur them toward a deeper walk with You in Your love.
Before encouraging harmony and hospitality in Romans 15, Paul did a good bit of “ground preparation” in the previous chapter. Believers who were in agreement about basic Christian teachings were passing judgment on those with different dietary practices and those who held certain days as more sacred than others. Paul’s teaching was direct and corrective. “Stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister” (14:13). “Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. . . . Do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil” (vv. 15–16). “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. . . . It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall” (vv. 20–21).