Suggested Bible Reading: Romans 16
Oh how I thank the Lord for the friends God has given to me. Some of Paul’s closest friends were those who labored along side him in ministry. Here, in this passage, Paul is explaining the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret, but is now made manifest. He is explaining the ministry of the local church…PEOPLE. He lists the people who have labored with him, and encouraged him in the Lord. The tenderness and love shown in these verses is precious. I can certainly relate to such a list of people in my own ministry. However, in verse 17, Paul switches gears. He explains another part of working with people. Protecting the majority from the minority. To truly love someone is to strive for what is good for him and to oppose whatever harms him. That is true of husbands’ and wives’ love for each other, of parents for their children, of pastors for their congregations, and of believers for all other believers. Therefore, Paul is demonstrating just as much tenderness and love for the Church of Rome by exposing the troublemakers as by listing the faithful servants. The command is clear, mark and avoid the people who disrupt the unity of the church, because they are serving their own desires and agendas and fulfilling the work of Satan in causing division. Paul warns, be careful of their smiles, spiritual façade, and convincing speech. God loves His church as so should we!
• Lord, help me today to let those who labor with me, know how much I love and appreciate them.
• Lord, help me not take for granted Your love and grace that You demonstrate as You bring these loving, faithful individuals into my life.
• Lord, help me to have discernment to identify and mark those who may cause harm to the unity of Your church.
• Lord, give me grace but strength to deal with those to whom I should mark.
• Lord, help me to never be so selfish and short sighted that I would bring division to Your church.