Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.(Romans 16:16, ESV)
“Greet one another with a holy kiss.” Say hello with a spiritual token of your affection. Acknowledge a Christian brother or sister with a meaningful sign of friendship, like a warm handshake or gracious words. Paul’s emphasis is less on the kiss and more on how we greet each other.
Greetings are so important. Jesus taught about this. For instance, some people liked to be honored as they were greeted, and Jesus warned his followers about them: “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces” (Mark 12:38, ESV).
Jesus also cautioned his followers about greeting only the people they like: “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matthew 5:46–47). Rather than being exclusive or selective, we are to have open hearts and reach out to others. Just before Jesus taught his followers about greeting people, he told them, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:43–45, ESV). Clearly, in verses 43 through 47, Jesus is urging us to make no exceptions in our treatment of those we encounter.
How do you greet strangers? How do you greet slight acquaintances? Acknowledge all people graciously. How about those who are opposed to you? Do you greet them with a “spiritual handshake” or a fist? God calls us to pray for our enemies. Now you may respond, They aren’t my enemies; I just don’t like them because they are rude. Please hear me. Be willing to greet your enemy with a “holy kiss” and an authentic heart. This can only done through the Holy Spirit’s help.
Lord, help me to greet strangers, acquaintances, and those opposed to me with something like a holy kiss…. (Continue praying.)