Journal Ro 16 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help here in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet the church in their house.
Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me…” Ro 16:1-7
Observation: I notice that Paul is specific with naming folks in his letters.
Analysis: Who holds my heart and thoughts in Christ?
I have friends and acquaintances, more acquaintances than friends. But who do I know that I would commend in Christ to somebody else, much less to another church? Do I hold anybody I know in such esteem that I would say, “Hey, would you give these folks a hug in the Lord for me? I can’t go into many details, but these guys are rock stars in Jesus in my opinion and the opinion of others.” Or, even just listing out characteristics of note; things about them that are noteworthy and worthy of commendation.
These are the two principles that I am reminded of in this last chapter:
- Be diligent in looking for evidences of Grace in others. The scripture back up for this is Heb 3:13: “But exhort (or encourage) one another every day, as long as it is called “today”, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” How can I keep my friends from sin? By communicating what I see by looking for it and then saying something. Out of 10 things I see, say 9 good things before 1 bad thing.
- Be visible in pursuit of Christ and godliness. Scripture back up: “…but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity…devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching…Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.” (1 Tim 4:13b-15)
Did any of these folks Paul is pointing attention to conspicuously looking for notice? Thinking the best of them, probably not, and I would bet that Paul is astute enough to see the difference between authenticity and being a fake.
“…so that all may see your progress.” Letting my “little light shine”, not hiding my lamp under a basket, is about being humbly authentic in pursuing Jesus in all my life, every aspect.
It is also sharpening my eye to celebrate increasing godliness in others.
Prayer: Father, another hammer point from your Word; this time in a list of greetings at the end of a letter. Increase my eyesight to notice, really notice, evidences of Grace in others. AMEN.