I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ Jesus, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God.
What an opening to a letter! Can you imagine receiving that in the mail? Some of my favorite passages to read in scripture are the letters of Paul to the early church. I love reading how he encourages them in their faith, challenges them to grow and to pursue God, and rebukes them when they have fallen astray. I can hear the passion and emotion that he writes with, urging his brothers and sisters in the faith to pursue Christ above all earthly things.
Paul often mentions specific friends by name in his letters and includes a special message for or about them. He writes to each church with urgency and a knowledge of their struggles. He continually encourages his brothers and sisters in the faith, in spite of what they are going through, to press on.
We need friends like Paul. Friends who challenge us in our faith and hold us accountable for our actions. Friends who can encourage us in every day life. Friends who will walk with us through suffering. Friends who can rejoice with us in our successes. Friends who are not afraid to speak Biblical truth in a world that is often preaching the opposite.
Who are those people in your life? Have you taken some time to encourage them lately? Have you told them how much you appreciate them? Are you aware of what is going on in their life? Take some time to catch up or write them a little note to say how much you appreciate them.