“‘Now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified… You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”’
“And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.
“And when we had parted from them and set sail, we came… to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. Having found a ship crossing to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. When we had come in sight of Cyprus,.. we sailed to Syria and landed at Tyre, for there the ship was to unload its cargo. Having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days… When our days there were ended,.. they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed and said farewell to one another… When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for one day.” Acts 29:32,34-21:7
This window into the intimate fellowship among Paul’s team and followers opens the reality and possibilities of common faith and calling. Everywhere Paul went, he was focused on God’s task: building up the church with truth and encouragement. His love for them was palpable in all he gave of himself throughout his travels, and it rendered back deep affection, exhibited in strong shared emotions, mutual support, and prayer.
The fabric of the Body of Christ is like no other. When the Holy Spirit knits hearts and minds together in unity of love and purpose, the bond is strong and resilient, no matter the outside pressures and distances forced upon it. We bear one another’s burdens, and rejoice and weep and pray with each other. Discipleship as a calling is challenging at best, and God’s great gift to us is the fellowship, support, upbuilding, shared vision, and mutual comfort of our fellow saints along the journey. (Romans 12:15; Galatians 6:2)
How well are we playing our part? What example do we set for those younger in faith, and what specific encouragement do we give? When in a new location or new assignment, do we readily seek out the Christ’s disciples for insight, advice, and prayer? When others struggle, or set off on specific mission, how prone are we to gather and commend in prayer? Do we have enough margin to ‘stay a day’ when needs or opportunities arise, either to fill up, or give out?
Lord, thank You for the fellowship of saints. Keep me keen to opportunities to come alongside, willing and available to meet needs, and humbly receptive to the admonition and blessing of others. May the world know that we are Your disciples by our love for one another, and our loving You best. (John 13:35)