Monday, July 01, 2024

2024.07.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 16:1–2

Read Romans 16:1–2

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle do for whom (Romans 16:1)? What two things does he call her? In which church does she serve? What is the first thing that he tells them to do to her (Romans 16:2)? In Whom? In what manner? What is the second thing that he tells them to do to her? In what business? For what additional reason?

Why should we serve each other? Romans 16:1–2 prepares us for the midweek sermon in the prayer meeting. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that saints have multiple reasons for serving each other. 

Having used his own travel plans to teach the church at Rome about desiring fruit and praying for fruit, the apostle now uses an introduction to the letter’s carrier to teach them about reasons to serve one another.

Because she’s a sister. In a family, sisters should be objects of special protection and assistance. And God has made us a family. “Our sister” isn’t just an identity; it’s an incentive to receive and assist her. If you’re a believer, you have family, and you should serve them as sisters and brothers!

Because she’s a servant. This is both incentive and example. A couple verses ago, the apostle referred to his service for Jerusalem (cf. Romans 15:31), and now uses the same noun root to describe Phoebe as one who does service at Cenchrea. It’s the root of the verb Jesus used to describe His example as a servant (cf. Luke 22:27). Just as Phoebe serves her church, the Romans should serve her. All Christians should be servants. If you received a note introduction from someone, it should be able to say “a servant of the church”!

Because she and they are in the Lord. He tells them to welcome her “in the Lord.” The Lord has brought us into relation not only with each other but with Himself. She is in the Lord, and He receives as unto Himself even a cup of water given her (cf. Mark 9:41). And any good act of welcoming her glorifies the Lord, because it can be done only in Him, only by His grace (cf. Romans 8:1–4; 1 Corinthians 15:10). Don’t just serve, dear reader. Serve in the Lord!

Because she and they are saints. The Lord has consecrated both Phoebe to Himself and the Roman Christians to Himself. Holy people serve others. And holy people are worth serving. So, their receiving her should be done in a way that responds properly to these glorious realities. If you are a Christian, God has consecrated you from among the world to Himself for serving. And every Christian He brings into your life is also consecrated to Him. How zealously, then, you should be serving the saints!

Because she has needs. The second command is to “assist her in whichever pragmatics she needs from you.” The word “whichever” recognizes that whatever needs arise come in the providence of God, and the fact that they arise while she is among them also comes in the providence of God. In other words, those needs are providential assignments from God to help her. As needs arise among your congregation, and the out-of-town Christians who visit among you, they are providential assignments from God for you to help them.

Because she has helped others. As believers serve one another, they “indebt” one another. There is a virtuous cycle of strengthening their bond with one another. It’s not just “after all I’ve done for you” but “after all we’ve done for each other.” The apostle uses a double conjunction to say “for also” she has been a helper of many and of myself also. In Phoebe’s case, it was almost, “after all she’s done for everyone.” The apostle makes sure to include himself, so that any esteem or affection they have for him will underscore the strength of the obligatory bond they have to serve her. Sometimes in the church, those who have served many others come into a time of need themselves. If that is you, let others serve you. And when it happens with someone else, see to it that you serve them!

Whom do you know that serves others in this way? How are you serving in this way? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for serving us, and for employing us to serve others. Help us by Your Spirit, so that we will respond to these many right motivations with much zealous service in Christ, through Whom we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH534 “Fill Thou My Life, O Lord, My God” 

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