Proverbs 28,29; Psalms 60; Romans 16
"I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae …. Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me … Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys.” (Romans 16:1-9)
As the words from the apostle's pen comes to the final paragraph, he ends with what he feels is most important. He has already dealt with doctrine. He addressed the tension that exists between spirit and flesh. He spoke of submission and spiritual disciplines, but now, he saves the most important for his concluding remarks. Paul mentions twenty-eight people by name! And to each relationship, he attached a short word of heartfelt gratitude. No, you don't find any anonymous groupings here. You won't find generalizations here, or for expediency's sake, a lumped-together group thanked in mass. Instead, you will be moved by an intimate conversation among friends. Relationships. That's what Paul treasured the most in the end. I have sat with many who have come to the final moments of their life. In those concluding moments, the unimportant fades, and only that, which is vital, remains. And without fail, their greatest treasure? Healthy relationships. And their greatest pain? Unresolved or broken ones. Jesus reminded us that the greatest commandment, in Mark 12:30, is to love God with all we've got, and then do the same with those around us. He then concludes with these words: "There is no greater commandment ..." And what is that? Living in healthy relationships ...
It doesn't mean we will always agree. Unity does not mean conformity or cloning. It does mean, however, that we always support. We always love, and we always stay on the same team. The Bible uses the metaphor that we're ... One Body. Let me explain it in this way: My heart doesn't do what my liver does. It's not supposed to. My kidneys don't do what my lungs do. They don't compete with each other for attention. They don't try to be like each other. Nope. Instead, "unity" in my body is defined by each part doing what it is supposed to do to the best of its ability! And the other parts? They cheer and support!
And when God sees that happening in His family, He leans over the banister of heaven, and, with a sigh of delight, says: "It just doesn't get any better!"
Dear Father, please remind me again and again of this great commandment which Paul so clearly emphasizes. Today I will be cognizant of relationships and invest in them early on.