The Best Stuff

Romans 16:3-13 “Greet (fill in the blank)…
– fellow workers in Christ [who] risked their lives for me…
– who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia…
– my relatives who have been in prison with me…
– whom I love in the Lord…
– tested and approved in Christ…
– those women who work hard in the Lord…
– another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord
– chosen in the Lord…
– who has been like a mother to me.“

Observation: Paul begins the concluding chapter of his letter to the Romans by investing fully sixteen verses in personal greetings, of which the above extractions are but a sampling.

Application: These are the kinds of verses it is easy to scan quickly in our quest for the good stuff, but they may turn out to be the best stuff of all. Like interminable genealogies or myriad details of temple dimensions, we may vaguely suspect God probably had His reasons for including such minutiae in the Bible, yet the mind loses its concentration as we encounter such passages.

But in reading too quickly, we miss part of the depth and richness of God’s Word. Think of it this way: Hebrews 11 is called the “faith” chapter as forefathers and foremothers took heroic strides in advancing God’s kingdom on earth. “By faith Abraham” did this; “by faith Moses” did that, and so on.

Romans 16 is the same kind of thing, with one distinction: it’s personal. This is Paul’s personal pantheon of the faithful among his family and his circle of friends. It is an intimate list of some with whom he has walked and celebrated and suffered and grown as his life in Christ has deepened.

I have such a pantheon. Were I to construct my own Wall of Remembrance, countless names would be engraved of people who are mostly obscure in the world’s eyes, yet have been profoundly used of God to awaken my heart and mind to the Lord Jesus Christ. From those who have suffered much I have learned grace. Others have demonstrated great faithfulness to friendship through my seasons of unsteadiness. There have been teachers and friends, relatives and co-workers, each having helped to deliver me securely into the arms of Christ. I savor and delight in their remembrance.

Prayer: Father, I see now why such verses are in Your Word. Thank You for the treasure of each relationship I have in Christ. They have lifted me to You on their shoulders. I speak blessing and peace upon each of them today.

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