that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine.Romans 1:12(NASB)
It was very important that Paul built up a rapport with the Christians in Rome, because this gentile church was one of the few Christian communities that was not started by Paul himself.
No doubt, he wanted to share first-hand some of the mysteries that had been hidden for ages and generations.. but which had been revealed to him, for the benefit of the Church. He also wanted to be sure that their doctrine was sound, their faith was maturing, and that they were growing in grace. And doubtless, Paul also longed to rejoice with these fellow believers, about the good news of the glorious gospel of grace and their mutually secure position in Christ.
We do not know who took the gospel to the capital city of the great Roman empire, but we do know that there was a thriving church in this pagan city - and that many of the believers there were known personally to the apostle.
Paul had experienced many trials and tribulations.. and knew that one day, he would be handed over to the gentiles, and would even appear before Caesar himself. But Paul knew that nothing could separate him from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, and that no one could pluck him out of God's hands - and he wanted the saints at Rome to know the same truth in their heart, and to encourage these believers to hold fast to the faith, and stand firm on the truth of the gospel of God.
But like all of us, Paul also needed encouragement from other members of the body of Christ, and so he told these Christians in Rome that he longed to come and see them.. "So that I may be encouraged together with you while I am among you, each of us encouraged by the other's faith, both yours and mine."
Perhaps more than anything, this is a glimpse into the heart of a man.. who at times must have experienced seasons of loneliness and some human discouragement, through the things that he had to endure for the sake of Christ. Paul obviously knew the joy of genuine, Christian fellowship in a lost world that is at enmity with God and exhibits hatred for God's people.. and his letter shows a genuine desire to visit these faithful believers.
As the days get darker and the world becomes increasingly evil, the need for sincere Christian fellowship and encouragement becomes even more necessary. Every believer has been given spiritual gifts and graces that are to be used to encourage and exhort one another. Paul himself taught that our spiritual gifts are to be used for the mutual edification, exhortation, teaching, consolation, building up, and encouragement of the Church of Christ.
As members of His body, let us seek to use our gifts and graces to uplift and invigorate our brothers and sisters in the faith, and to welcome the encouragement and advice we receive from them. Let us never forget that we have gifts that differ from one another, according to the grace that has been given to us, and through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit we should exercise our spiritual gifts and grace accordingly - not only for the mutual encouragement of one another.. but also for the honour and glory of His precious name.
Heavenly Father, thank You that we are all members of Your body and that each one has been given gifts and graces that are to be used appropriately. Help us to live according to Your Word and to use our gifts and graces for the mutual encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ. May we all grow in grace and in a knowledge of the Lord Jesus, as we see the day of His return grow ever closer. This I ask, to Your praise and glory. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.