Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Faith Of Our Fathers"1 (Lyrics)
Romans 16:3-7a,10,12b-13 – Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house. 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 Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. Greet Apelles, tested and approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. (NIV)
Since I started writing devotionals for the PresbyCan ministry about four years ago, I have been blessed to meet many interesting Christians from all over the world, some of whom are my fellow writers, while others are readers who frequently send feedback to encourage me. Remarkably, through the PresbyCan connection, I have had the opportunity to develop unique friendships with believers in Canada, Africa, and Pakistan. Moreover, I met amazing people from my own country in the states of California, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Although we have never met in person, God continues to use our long distance communication as a means of support and encouragement, especially during difficult times.
Similarly, in the last chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans, he sends personal greetings from Corinth to believers in the imperial city. Twenty-seven persons are referred to by name; only a sampling is mentioned in today's Scripture. Evidently, Paul had previous contact with some of those individuals during his missionary journeys. Nevertheless, at the time of his writing, he had not had the chance to visit the church in Rome to which his letter is addressed.
Until recently, I have often overlooked the significance of Paul's greetings. How could these greetings possibly be meaningful in the church today? But now, considering the importance of this passage, several thoughts came to mind. First, it says a lot about Paul's character: a person who cared deeply about others — not only publicly, but in his private life as well. Secondly, it shows Paul's appreciation for the unique gifts of other believers, who, like himself, were co-laborers for Christ. Thirdly, the recipients of Paul's letter were a diverse group — Jews, Gentiles, men, women, couples, singles, etc. Yet, every one of these individuals played an important role in the life and times of the apostle Paul.
Lastly, I offer this suggestion from my Bible study guide: "Cultivate expressions of esteem for others." I believe that we can learn a lot from Paul's personal greetings, which perfectly illustrate this principle. It is my hope that you, too, will take the time to study this chapter. Perhaps Paul's friends will remind you of someone you know. Why not send them a greeting in the name of our Lord? At the same time, encourage them to use their gifts for the good of His church.
Prayer: Lord, we thank You for Paul's example in expressing his gratitude for the hard work and service of others in the early church. They were the background workers whom we would never have known existed were it not for Paul's appreciation for their gifts. Help us to do likewise in recognizing our brothers and sisters in Christ who now play a significant role in strengthening Your church in today's difficult times. In Jesus' holy name, we pray. Amen.