“Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.”
For sixteen verses, Paul praises the believers in churches. As he sat in prison, his mind was no doubt drawn to those who helped him throughout the years. He didn’t want their labors to be done in vain. It is interesting to see the different actions that brought his praise. There were actions such as: helping him when nobody else wanted anything to do with him; being a volunteer for church work; people laying down their lives for others; believers who continued in the ministry without quitting; believers who produced fruit; and people who labored much in the LORD. According to Paul, these actions were the acts that caused him to want to commend certain people for what they did for him and the church. He didn’t want these people to be unnoticed in the work of the LORD.
Church work often goes unnoticed. It is easy to get so caught up in reaching the lost and trying to help people that we forsake the ones who are doing the greatest work. In my experience, those who are the most valuable to the church are least esteemed over those who are fringe believers who walk in the world. This should not be the case in any church. I would like to share with you several observations from Romans 16 that I believe would be noteworthy in helping the spirit of those who labor in the church.
First, every person is important to the church. Be careful about only noticing those who carry a title in the church. You will notice that Paul didn’t bring attention to the pastors of these churches, but to those who labored behind the scenes. Be careful that praise isn’t only for those who are church leaders, but give your praise to every believer who labors in the church.
Second, you have something to offer. When you study the backgrounds of those who Paul praised, each person had a different background. Many believers don’t feel they have anything to offer, but I would like to turn that mindset around. God put you in the exact church that needs you. He could have placed you in any other church, but He didn’t. Therefore, you have something to offer to your church. Don’t let the lack of confidence in yourself cause you not to be uninvolved in being a help to your church.
Third, someone notices what you are doing. Paul was careful to tell the church to bring attention to these people. Why? I believe he did this because he thought their labors were going unnoticed. You may think nobody notices what you are doing, but let me assure you someone is watching. Never let Satan tempt you to think that what you are doing is going for naught. Someone is watching, and you are being a blessing to them.
Fourth, leaders must be careful to praise those who labor for the LORD. Leaders, be careful not to praise the worldly Christian in an attempt to draw them back and forsake the ones who faithfully labor beside you. If the worldly believer is the one who is praised, you will discourage the laboring saint and teach the new believer that worldliness is what is praiseworthy. The greatest way to get people to step up is to praise and honor those who faithfully serve the LORD. Don’t be guilty of giving attention to the worldly, but giving commendations to those who labor in the LORD is how you teach others what they are supposed to do.