This is Paul’s longest letter and maybe his most important one. In modern days, we type and can quickly edit what we’ve written. But try to picture Paul writing with pen and ink on an scroll using materials that would have been expensive and challenging to get from one person to another. It was quite a process and it is amazing how his words have been preserved for all these years. In his conclusion to his letter to the Romans, Paul lets them know that he wants to visit them when he takes a trip to Spain. But his immediate destination is Jerusalem because the Gentile believers in the Macedonian area have collected money to help the poor in Jerusalem and Paul would personally deliver it. Talking about the offering Paul adds, “For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.”
Mankind has spiritual needs, physical needs and relational needs. God is the One who designed us, and He is very aware of our needs. Jesus, during His Sermon on the Mount, taught His followers how to pray, and it is interesting that these three distinct areas come up in that model prayer. Our daily bread represents our physical needs. The need we have for two-way forgiveness reminds us that we depend on God for our relationship needs, to get along in healthy ways with people. Our spiritual needs are explained by the request for protection from temptation and the evil one. As we live and communicate with God in prayer, our ability to rely on His goodness grows. We become less egocentric and we can stop seeking to have our needs met in lesser ways. God filled Paul and used him to help provide what was lacking in the lives of many; may we be open and obedient to be filled and then used as well. Let’s be thankful to God for our blessings and pray, as we pay it forward, so others too will know His goodness.