Encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
–1 Thessalonians 5:11
In Romans 16, we can see four principles for today that will be an encouragement to you.
First, God created diversity in the Church. Notice from this list in Romans 16:1-16, Paul mentioned several people he wanted the believers in Rome to greet. His list included all kinds of people: singles, married, widows, men, women, Jews, Gentiles, Africans. I think if we knew these people as Paul did, we would also know some of them were pushy, some were laid back, some were leaders, some were quiet. The fact is, God uses all kinds of people. Let’s quit insisting that everybody be like we are. God did not mean for everybody to be just like you. God uses a diversity of people.
Second, God’s greatest work often goes unnoticed. Most of the people on this list we have never heard of or know little about. For example, who was Urbanus or Herodion or Julia? We don’t know. Even though we don’t know who these people were, God knows. Some people are out-front people in the work of God, like the Apostle Paul. But Paul said there were people behind the scenes at the church of Rome who were helping him in his ministry. Working alongside pastors are many people who make the Church what it is. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul compared the Church to the human body. Paul said it is often the unseen parts of the body that are the most important. It is not the hands, the feet, and the head. It is the pancreas, the liver–without those, you are dead. You can get along without a finger; you can’t get along without a pancreas or liver. Many times, God uses the unseen parts of the body to make the Church what it is.
Third, God honors those with a strong sense of purpose. One thing all the people on Paul’s list in Romans 16 had in common is they all had the purpose in life of making Christ known. Their names may not be familiar, but their goal in life was not to make their names familiar. Their goal was to make the name of Christ familiar in the world. All of us are here for just a short time. God did not leave you and me here to make a name for ourselves, to build a great career, to accumulate a lot of money that we are going to leave behind, or to have a wonderful family. No, God left us here to make Christ known to as many people as possible.
Fourth, God wants us to build up rather than tear down other believers. Every Sunday, you likely see people at your church and say, “How are you doing?” Most of them say, “Fine.” But the truth is, many of them are not doing fine at all. They feel beaten up, battered, and discouraged. They come to church looking for hope. I encourage you to make your church a place where people can receive the help and hope they need. Make it a habit to say an encouraging word to them. Say something that will lift their spirits. If Christians would make that a practice in our churches, then we will not be able to keep people away. That is the power of a positive word.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Power Of A Positive Word” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.