“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
“Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.
“I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord.
“Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.
“Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that… has now been disclosed and… made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” Romans 16:17-27
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
As Paul addresses the churches throughout Rome, he includes admonition, warning, encouragement, hope, and greetings from a cascade of others, communicating that both messages and individuals are helpful for the strengthening of believers. His was the part of teacher/writer, but others also had necessary, God-given roles. The fellow worker, the scribe, the hospitable host, and the city treasurer are each a part of God’s assembled and providential Body.
The Christian life is full of tests and challenges as part of the assault of the world and the believers’ sanctification. We get bumped and bruised by obstacles and obstinate nay-sayers, but we do not go it alone. God sprinkles the people of His invisible kingdom throughout His visible world, and we are here to avoid the enemy and strive forward together, encourage one another, and make an eternal difference in our specific place. It is important we accept our place in His Body, and exercise the unique qualities He’s entrusted to us for the building up of many. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
To what unique place has God called me to serve His people? Who has He given to come alongside and advise, for whom I can give thanks? And whom would He have me pray for, challenge, greet, or uphold? How well am I fulfilling my particular part to bless God’s people, and contribute to the purity, endurance, sanctification, and fortitude of His church?
Father, may I understand and do my part faithfully, specifically, and generously for the building of Your kingdom and honor of Your name.
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