When we think of Heroes of Faith our minds go to Hebrews 11. We think of Abel. Enoch. Noah. Abraham. Isaac. Jacob. Joseph. Moses. And Joshua. Their stories are well known. We preach sermons about them. And model them as examples of faith to our children in VBS.
However, this morning I am reading about some other faithful heroes.
Epaenetus. Andronicus. Junia. Amplias. Urbanus. And Stachys. Recognize any of them?
They are listed in Romans 16, along with 24 other names, most of whom you would not recognize, and would also have trouble pronouncing their names.
Why did Paul take the time to list these individuals? What purpose does it serve? And how does it benefit us today?
(1) We are reminded of the value of every faithful child of God. Just because someone is not well known in the Kingdom does diminish their worth. The importance of their ministry. Or their faithful, loving labor for the Lord.
How many today toil in obscurity in small congregations, their names known only to God and the local folks, but are making a difference? Letting their light shine. And raising families and influencing friends who are heaven bound.
(2) Everyone has a story. Hidden behind these unusual sounding names are people with a story a tell. A few we know a little about. Like Priscilla and Aquila. But most we don’t.
How were they converted? What obstacles did they overcome? Why did Paul single them out? We can only guess.
But I’m reminded that everyone I meet has a story. In your local churches, take the time to learn about those with whom you worship. You might be surprised at what you learn. And their faithfulness through the trials of life just might help you appreciate them more, and inspire you to greater service.
(3) Women have an important place in the Lord’s church. Nine of the names, according to Wiersbe, are female. Paul appreciated their work. And commended them. Of course, the best known is Phoebe. This woman heads the list. She was a servant. A worker. An invaluable helper to Paul. And to many others.
Too often because of the Biblical restrictions regarding the public leadership role of women, we depreciate the role, worth and work of women in the church. Through the years I’ve observed the hardest workers in the church are women. They teach. Visit. Evangelize. Organize. Cook. Encourage. And contribute.
It is faithful, godly sisters who manage their homes. Train their children. Write notes. Make calls. Send emails. Support their husbands. And in some cases are responsible for their husband’s conversion to Christ. And are almost the first to volunteer to do a good work.
Thank God for godly women who minister in a multitude of ways.
(4) The Church is a Family. All of this reminds us that the we are a family. A spiritual family. In the text we note the often used word “fellow,” to speak of “fellow workers” or “fellow laborers.” It speaks to our fellowship in the Lord. Of our commonality in Christ. And of our communion in the Spirit.
If you take the time to slowly read this chapter you will feel the felicity and filial affection that Paul felt for his spiritual brothers and sisters. They were his “kinsmen” in Christ. And he encourages the brethren in Rome to express their affection for one another as they “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”
This chapter reminds me that in this big, worldwide brotherhood of ours, we’re family. God’s family. And since we all belong to the Lord, we belong to one another. Let us never devalue or diminish the worth, the role or the work of each member. Regardless of their station in life, their reputation, or their level of talent.
Ultimately, I need to remember, it’s not about me. It’s all about HIM. And so, “to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman