Paul loved Christ and His church, and it is obvious from his letters to the local churches that Paul’s love for God’s people was genuine. At the end of Romans, Paul dives off into a series of greetings and acknowledgements. It’s quite clear that while he wrote entire epistles to Timothy, Paul likewise remembered others who worked behind the scenes. Not everyone is called to pastor a church, and the church needs people up front and behind the scenes to run properly.
Paul remembered Mary and how hard she worked. In Romans 16:6, Paul requested that a particular Mary would be recognized for her service. Paul had remembered her diligent work for the glory of God. It apparently made an impression on him.
People Need Encouragement
Paul’s salutations were aimed at those Christians who had labored well—and in many cases well behind the scenes. Serving the Lord is never an easy task. There are always difficulties and challenges along the way. In Paul’s day the labor was often unnoticed and the environment was harsh toward Christianity. Encouragement was necessary in his day, and such encouragement was rooted in Christian love. Paul understood that his friends and fellow servants needed to be recognized.
In our present day, the landscape in America is not as harsh towards Christianity, but Christians still need to be encouraged. Like Mary who labored well in Paul’s day, we must not overlook the faithful ladies who serve in our local churches. Imagine your church without the faithful ladies who give themselves to serve you and the rest of the church. Do you notice the men who do their work quietly in the backdrop of ministry? Don’t overlook them. They are precious in the sight of the Lord.
Recognition Is Not Bad
We aren’t told who this particular Mary is, but Paul knew her. Perhaps she had served him at some place during his missionary journey and was now removed to Rome. We can’t be emphatic about her identity because we simply aren’t given enough information. What we do know is that Paul intended to recognize Mary in a letter sent to Rome. Paul’s desire was to make sure that she was recognized and appreciated for her faithful service.
While I agree that we should trim as much wasteful time and unnecessary announcements out of our worship gatherings, there are times when recognition is a good thing. Maybe a church newsletter, a special letter to the church, or in the weekly bulletin would provide a more natural platform to spotlight some of those people who serve well behind the scenes.
This week I tried to observe those who serve well behind the scenes in my local church setting, and it’s obvious that many people deserve praise and need to be encouraged in their task. Each week we are served by faithful ladies who prepare meals for our midweek meal on Wednesday evening. Without them, the meal would not happen. We are served each week by several men who work diligently to operate our lights, microphones, screens, and much of this is directly connected to our weekly worship. Often such people serve without ever being recognized, thanked, or appreciated by the church.
The next time you’re reading through the New Testament and you see Paul remembering people, let that serve as a reminder that we all should recognize and appreciate people for their work in the service of the Lord. How long would it take to send an e-mail, to hand write a letter, or to speak to them in person on the Lord’s day? Remember those who serve with diligence behind the scenes for the glory of God.