I know that many skip over this last part of Paul’s letter of greetings, but in it I find so much affirmation. “Be sure to welcome____”, “Say hello to ____” begins a list of the people doing the work of the Lord in all kinds of ways. It shows that Paul knows the people well almost as much as God knows their hearts for loving and serving him. Paul takes the opportunity to AFFIRM the work God is doing in and through them!
Dear Friends, we do not give as much honest affirmations like this as we should in and out of God’s church. We get so busy surviving another Sunday with one or more services without even a smiling nod of approval or a word of thanks much less an “I love how you serve” holy hug. This is part of the work, according to Paul, for people are God’s work in progress. How will people know if they are on the right track of serving if we do not tell them as leaders? A little bit of affirmation multiples exponentially. When someone affirms me, I work ten times harder and immediately affirm others. God planned it that way, I’m pretty sure.
Jesus affirmed women in his work while on earth which was counter culture for that time. Now, it is good to see that Paul does the same. Look at the list of affirmations he gives to specific women in the work of God’s Kingdom. Paul will do this many times in his letters to the churches he helped to develop. Watch for it…
Finally, Paul teaches us a very important aspect of affirmation. We affirm, not the person, but Jesus IN the person leading them to do what they are doing for Him. This huge difference we must not miss. Vain flatteries are merely comments of self and produce only conceit. But affirming words, prompted by God’s Holy Spirit, build the Body of Christ. Notice that Paul ends all these affirmations with;
“All of our praise rises to the One who is strong enough to make you strong, exactly as preached in Jesus Christ, precisely as revealed in the mystery kept secret for so long but now an open book through the prophetic Scriptures. All the nations of the world can now know the truth and be brought into obedient belief, carrying out the orders of God, who got all this started, down to the final detail.
All our praise is focused through Jesus on this incomparably wise God! Yes!
Affirm someone in the work of the Lord today, tomorrow or next time you meet. You will discover that every time you sincerely affirm someone else in the work, attention on self disappears, we gain strength, more at peace with joy overflowing from God, the One who makes us all strong.
How do we do it, you might ask?
I learned many years ago that the holiest way to affirm someone while doing the work God gave them to be and do is;
“Fred, Mary, I see Jesus in you when you _________”.
Fill in the blank with what you see Jesus doing in them while they are serving Him. This “holy hug” will be embedded in the hearts of those who serve God with all their hearts, minds and souls. “Nice haircut or nice clothes” are personal but do not build the Body of Christ who said, “Don’t worry about what you eat or wear.” “Love each other as I have loved you.”
Ooh, now I think we get it, Lord.
ROMANS—OUR CARE AND CALLING
Romans 16, The Message
1-2 Be sure to welcome our friend Phoebe in the way of the Master, with all the generous hospitality we Christians are famous for. I heartily endorse both her and her work. She’s a key representative of the church at Cenchrea. Help her out in whatever she asks. She deserves anything you can do for her. She’s helped many a person, including me.
3-5 Say hello to Priscilla and Aquila, who have worked hand in hand with me in serving Jesus. They once put their lives on the line for me. And I’m not the only one grateful to them. All the non-Jewish gatherings of believers also owe them plenty, to say nothing of the church that meets in their house.
Hello to my dear friend Epenetus. He was the very first follower of Jesus in the province of Asia.
6 Hello to Mary. What a worker she has turned out to be!
7 Hello to my cousins Andronicus and Junias. We once shared a jail cell. They were believers in Christ before I was. Both of them are outstanding leaders.
8 Hello to Ampliatus, my good friend in the family of God.
9 Hello to Urbanus, our companion in Christ’s work, and my good friend Stachys.
10 Hello to Apelles, a tried-and-true veteran in following Christ.
Hello to the family of Aristobulus.
11 Hello to my cousin Herodion.
Hello to those who belong to the Lord from the family of Narcissus.
12 Hello to Tryphena and Tryphosa—such diligent women in serving the Master.
Hello to Persis, a dear friend and hard worker in Christ.
13 Hello to Rufus—a good choice by the Master!—and his mother. She has also been a dear mother to me.
14 Hello to Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and also to all of their families.
15 Hello to Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas—and all the followers of Jesus who live with them.
16 Holy hugs all around! All the churches of Christ send their warmest greetings!
17-18 One final word of counsel, friends. Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.
19-20 And so while there has never been any question about your honesty in these matters—I couldn’t be more proud of you!—I want you also to be smart, making sure every “good” thing is the real thing. Don’t be gullible in regard to smooth-talking evil. Stay alert like this, and before you know it the God of peace will come down on Satan with both feet, stomping him into the dirt. Enjoy the best of Jesus!
21 And here are some more greetings from our end. Timothy, my partner in this work, Lucius, and my cousins Jason and Sosipater all said to tell you hello.
22 I, Tertius, who wrote this letter at Paul’s dictation, send you my personal greetings.
23 Gaius, who is host here to both me and the whole church, wants to be remembered to you.
Erastus, the city treasurer, and our good friend Quartus send their greetings.
25-26 All of our praise rises to the One who is strong enough to make you strong, exactly as preached in Jesus Christ, precisely as revealed in the mystery kept secret for so long but now an open book through the prophetic Scriptures. All the nations of the world can now know the truth and be brought into obedient belief, carrying out the orders of God, who got all this started, down to the final detail.
27 All our praise is focused through Jesus on this incomparably wise God! Yes!
I love you with all my heart, mind and soul and so do millions of others who believe. Help us to holy affirm each other, spurred by our love for you that prompts us to love each other they way you love us—without conditions.
In Jesus Name, Amen