When I was young, I rarely found a trek through the Bible interesting. I suppose that had more to do with the person who was doing the teaching and their personality. I often find my character to be a bit quirky, and that adds a flair to my teaching efforts. In many ways I see things differently; I like to call it putting flesh and blood on the biblical characters. Perhaps that adds a bit of undue negativity but we all came out of the same mold, and therefore, struggle with similar issues.
An example of this is my perception of Paul when he says; I unceasingly make mention of you in my prayers. How do I take this, especially when my trust-er is slightly broken? Paul had a history of throwing himself into his work; and, there is this tenacity that we find when we learn of his interactions. By paying attention, I have learned that I can trust Paul, just as I trust God and His word.
With that being said, let’s dive in.
Romans 1:8-10 LITV First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of in all the world. (9) For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of His Son, how without ceasing I make mention of you (10) always at my prayers, beseeching if by any means now at length I shall be blessed by the will of God to come to you.
- “ First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all,” …For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of His Son, how without ceasing I make mention of you (10) always at my prayers,”
Paul tells us why he prays unceasingly for them.
- “Because your faith is spoken of in all the world.”
This sentence is a positive accolade.
Here are some verses that say something comparable.
2 Corinthians 3:2-4 LITV You are our letter, having been inscribed in our hearts, being known and being read by all men, (3) it having been made plain that you are Christ’s letter, served by us, not having been inscribed by ink, but by the Spirit of the living God, not in tablets of stone, but in fleshly tablets of the heart. (4) And we have such confidence through Christ toward God;
Paul had a similar conviction about the church at Colossae; and, therefore, prayed unceasingly for them
Colossians 1:9 LITV For this cause also, from the day in which we heard, we do not cease praying on your behalf, and asking that you may be filled with the full knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,
And we can contrast Paul’s thoughts against John’s, as John says:
3 John 1:3 LITV For I rejoiced greatly at the coming of the brothers, also bearing witness of you in the truth, as you walk in truth.
John’s audience bore witness to the truth and walked in it.
- “beseeching if by any means now at length I shall be blessed by the will of God to come to you.” So Paul has an earnest desire to be able to come and “visit” with them. I doubt that ever happened.
Romans 1:11-12 Moffatt NT (11) For I do yearn to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift for your strengthening — (12) or, in other words, that I may be encouraged by meeting you, I by your faith and you by mine.
- “For I do yearn to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift for your strengthening,” What that spiritual gift is we are not told. Later in this letter to the church in Rome Paul begins to clarify the idea of giftings.
Romans 12:6 NET. And we have different gifts according to the grace given to us. If the gift is prophecy, that individual must use it in proportion to his faith.
Again, what did Paul say to the church in Rome?
Romans 1:11 NET. For I long to see you, so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you,
What is my keyword here? Impart – To give, grant or communicate; to bestow on another a share or portion of something; To confer; To communicate the knowledge of something; to make known.
So, through the laying on of hands, we can impart, not only spiritual gifts, but bestow, confer, and make known – to the best of our/God’s ability, the information concerning those gifts.
In the case of Peter and John, the first realization they had of the Holy Spirit was on the Day of Pentecost. Is it possible that they had to learn by trial and error, or did they have a teacher? The best was Jesus, but aside from the examples He left them, we do not see Jesus teaching them directly about hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. The point here is that there is hope for us.
- “ that I may be encouraged by meeting you, I by your faith and you by mine.”
This letter to the church in Rome is what Paul says to, not only this church body but to your body as well. Obviously, Paul is no longer with us, but we who follow Christ are now His hands and feet, and we are compelled by this to encourage others and impart or convey any of a variety of spiritual gifts.
Often, a simplistic reading only shows you what seems like selfish motives, such as Paul’s comment – “that I may be encouraged by you,” so it becomes necessary for us to pursue the context of the passage. Since Paul has given us his thoughts on multiple occasions – in his letters to the churches, we can understand that he cares about those that have come to follow Christ. Considering who he was and his personality that is difficult at best to comprehend.
The annoying part of this process was a technique that my mother loved to push at us when we had a problem with someone. She would say, you need to ask God to change you. Now, why would I do that when clearly they are the problem? Mom would be relentless, and in time I would pray that prayer. Much like a wound that had been bothering you for weeks, and you suddenly realize that it was gone, this change would take place in me, and I would begin to see those people who caused me grief differently. I can only explain this as God intervening to change my heart.
Merely telling you these things triggered a string of memories; memories in which I felt hatred toward certain people. In all honesty, I held this hatred, in many cases, for years, but something changed, and almost without notice I found myself able to see the value in them, and I cared for them. No, it did not happen all at once, or overnight, but with some, it did happen. Apparently, we can change.