22 That’s why I have often been kept from coming to you. 23 Now there is no more place for me to work in those areas. For many years I have wanted to visit you. 24 So I plan to see you when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while I am passing through. And I hope you will help me on my journey there. But first I want to enjoy being with you for a while. 25 Now I am on my way to Jerusalem to serve the Lord’s people there. 26 The believers in Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to take an offering. It was for those who were poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. 27 They were happy to do it. And of course they owe it to them. The Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings. So the Gentiles should share their earthly blessings with the Jews. 28 I want to finish my task. I want to make sure that the poor in Jerusalem have received this offering. Then I will go to Spain. On my way I will visit you. 29 I know that when I come to you, I will come with the full blessing of Christ. 30 Brothers and sisters, I ask you to join me in my struggle. Join me by praying to God for me. I ask this through the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ. Pray for me with the love the Holy Spirit provides. 31 Pray that I will be kept safe from those in Judea who do not believe. I am taking the offering to Jerusalem. Pray that it will be welcomed by the Lord’s people there. 32 Then I will come to you with joy just as God has planned. We will be renewed by being together. 33 May the God who gives peace be with you all. Amen.
Paul has such a great way of bringing believers together, even when he is not there with them. He commends the people of Macedonia & Achaia for their desire to give a gift to the Jewish people, while also commending the Jewish people for the spiritual blessings that they have shared with these people, Gentiles. In just a short amount of verses, Paul brings a sense of unity & encouragement to these two people groups, who – without belief in Christ – would have had very little in common. Paul’s desire to lift up & build the church is so encouraging to me. His heart is to see a unified church, even when it seems unlikely given cultural & racial differences.
Reading these verses, I am encouraged to look for specific ways to encourage unity & connection in Christ within our church. Whether we are from different or similar backgrounds, we all have differences, yet have Christ in common. My prayer is that we would be people who seek to glorify God, who stand united to encourage & support each other as followers of Christ.
Thank you God that you have made us all differently, but that there is a place in your church & body for each of us. Help us to encourage & support each other, focusing on our love for you rather than our differences. Thank you for the example of Paul & all that we can learn from your word. Amen.
Written by Madelaine Tarasenko