Heroes of the faith
Most heroes in the military do not want the accolades as depicted by private Haines in the movie “Flags of our fathers”. He would have rather just stayed on Iwo Jima with his
buddies. Heroes are quick to deflect “glory” to the real heroes which are those who died on the battle field stating that they were only “doing their job”. Yet at the same time in Christian work, which is voluntary in nature, there is that saying which says; “Nothing improves my hearing better than praise”. When death is not on the line, we all want to be noticed for the good we do. Encouragement and thanks go a long way in keeping us at our thankless jobs. It means a lot more to us when others notice it without our soliciting it. Paul has memorialized the people listed below because of their participation in the Gospel. But like the war heroes I first mentioned, if our desire is for the praise of men, then that will be our only reward. God sees in secret. People with the proper perspective in their labors have attitudes like those of true heroes. Our attitude should be that we are unworthy servants just doing our jobs so that all glory goes to Christ for anything that he does through us. When we seek acclamation, we steal it from Christ who is the one who does the good through us. The purpose of giving or serving should be that “People praise God because of us” see 2 Cor 9.
Use this link for the NIV Rom 16:1-16 highlight verses that depict the reason for their mention.
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who builds my Church. Not a building, but people. Religions worry about the cleanliness of the outside; I see and clean the inside. The church is made up of my children. I use my children to strengthen each other. Don’t get so worked up over a building or property, care for one another, make sure your brother and sister are as well tended to as your church buildings. You are your brother’s keeper. Each one is established upon the foundation which is Christ and thus when the last believer is added to my church then the Capstone will be put in place, and my Church/ Body/ Bride will be reunited with her Lord. I am the first and last, the beginning and the end, not just of all creation but especially of my church.
I AM the God who began a good work in you and will perfect it in the last day. Each of the ones mentioned by my servant Paul was noted for their relationships and work for me among the believers of their time. There is no mention of what they did, but for whom they did it. When that is your emphasis, it will be noted, and you will be acknowledged for it when it really matters – before my throne.
I AM the Servant King. The more you invest in others, the greater your life will count for eternity. This is the attitude that is required of heroes. Deny yourself; put the interests of others before your own. If you want to be great in the kingdom of God, learn to be the servant of all. I took the position of the lowliest servant to wash the disciples’ feet. My church is not about pomp, ritual, pageantry or prestige. It is about lowliness, grace, forgiveness, and heart service to the needs of others. Be a servant and you will be a hero in my book.
To encourage others, you need to be encouraged yourself
By acknowledging each other for their accomplishments and commitment, we acknowledge God’s working in hearts and his body through each other. To encourage each other in this hard work is to keep the flame alive. Needless to say that this world is very hard and without encouragement, we get discouraged and quit. What happened to the church in the Asia where Paul worked or in Europe where the reformation spread? Are we guilty of snuffing out God’s church by a lack of encouragement? How do you keep hope alive? We do so when each believer takes it upon themselves to encourage one another with God’s Word (see Rom 1:11). You can only do that if you are studying it for yourself and allow the Holy Spirit to encourage you. Then we can “comfort one another with the comfort we have received from the Lord” 2 Cor 1:4. Where are these churches mentioned in history? Who knows how they departed from our midst or lie dormant as museums. We will look at that a bit next week. Only when we encourage each other, can we keep the church alive in faith through trials and persecution. Solomon says that when one falls the other can pick them up. Even encouragers need to be encouraged when they fall. It takes many members to make the body, many differing gifts, and many pieces of the puzzle that must all be present and active to complete the whole picture of Christ to the world. We need to recognize this in each other.
Heroes of faith we will meet soon
Think of the Christians who have gone on ahead of us to heaven, one day we will get to talk to the “Hall of famers of faith”. When I get to heaven, I will get to meet my great grandfather who was a preacher and experienced on his death bed a miraculous transition to heaven with a blinding light that was witnessed by my Grandmother who led me to Christ. We will get to meet those listed in Hebrews 11 who did not see relief from their persecution in this life but still remained faithful. We will get to meet the thousands who died because of the name of Christ around the world and the missionaries who gave their lives for the Gospel. Without encouragement nobody can withstand the Trials of this life let alone spread the Gospel around the globe. Without faith being encouraged, no one would choose to go through trials and become entrants into Faith’s ongoing hall of fame. Who encouraged Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, Jonathan Edwards and many others to change history in their time? Who encouraged you? You too can encourage someone to become great in God’s kingdom. Pass the torch on to others by encouraging them to work hard in the Faith and not give up. Your torch is alight by how much you are encouraged. Is your torch burning bright or dim? What kind of torch are you passing on to others?
More to come,