As I reflected today on last night’s congregational meeting, I gave thanks, among other things, for the gift of serving along side so many fellow workers in the Lord at Orlando Grace. From the building committee members, to the deacons, to the elders, we saw a display of devotion to the kingdom cause that makes this pastor flush with gratitude.
This blessing made me think of the apostle Paul where he sends greetings to the church in Romans 16:3-16. He mentions several people in the fellowship by name, citing reasons for his praise to God for them. Frequently, the virtue of working hard in the Lord and for His church goes down in the biblical record.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus (v. 3).
Greet Mary, who worked hard in the Lord for you (v. 6).
Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ (v. 9).
Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord (v. 12).
What lessons can we take away from a who’s who like this at the church in Rome? At least two come to mind.
First, it takes numerous servants to do the work of the ministry. Paul calls these saints fellow workers. Even the great apostle Paul acknowledged that he could not do the work by himself. It takes teamwork and cooperation among all the saints to build up Christ’s church. Don’t miss, by the way, that women who worked hard in the Lord made Paul’s list just like men. Hard work in gospel ministry applies to both genders. In fact, the term for hard work Paul uses only for women in the context!
Second, it doesn’t come easy. Paul often describes the ministry efforts expended as hard work. The Greek has only one word translated by these two English words. It comes from a root that means to beat or hit or smite something. It means to toil, strive, or struggle to the point of wearied exhaustion.
Spurgeon preached from this text with this exhortation to his people:
It is an honor to labor for Christ, it is a still greater honor to labor much. If then, any, in joining the Christian
Church, desire place or position, honor or respect, the way to it is this—labor, and labor much! Persis had probably been a slave and was of a strange race from the far-off land of Persia. But she was so excellent in disposition that she is called, “the beloved Persis,” and for her indefatigable industry she receives signal mention. Among believers the rewards of affectionate respect are distributed according to the self-denying service which is rendered to Christ and to His cause. May all of us be helped to labor much, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
So much hard work went into making last night possible. Many thanks to you all!
We would not find ourselves poised on the brink of so grand an adventure as constructing our new building apart from the faithfulness of God in raising up so many hard working servants with a heart for the gospel and the glory of Christ’s name on display in and through His church.
May we continue to prize hard work in the Lord for the virtue it truly is and may we indeed by helped to labor much, by the power of the Holy Spirit, as we move into 2011 and start construction on our facility.