The Upper Room Devotion for Friday, April 28, 2023, was written by Mary Hunt Webb of New Mexico.
21 Timothy, my co-worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my relatives. 22 I Tertius, the writer of this letter, greet you in the Lord. 23 Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you. 24 25 Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 16:21-27 NRSV
In The Background
Though several generations, various members of my family have been involved in ministry. One was a pastor, another was a missionary, two others were on the staff of different ministries, and several have served as volunteers. Although I have volunteered through the years, my main ministry now is as a Christian writer. I spend long hours researching, reading, and writing. Since my work takes place where others can’t see it happening, some people assume that I am not heavily involved in church work.
In his letters, the apostle Paul mentioned various people who had done good work where others could not see it. In today’s reading, Paul lists the names of several of them. While Phoebe tops that list in Romans 16:1, I am partial to the one who identified himself in Romans 16:22: “I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord.” Like me, Tertius was performing his ministry in the background. While we may take for granted the work of those like Tertius, it’s important to remember that not all work in ministry is visible to us. Nevertheless, that work is vital to the spreading of the gospel.
Have you met someone that prefers to be in the background? Someone who does the detail oriented, behind the scenes work that is essential to the success of every event and program. While the people in the spotlight, at center stage, may receive the accolades, the work of stage managers and stagehands is crucial. The work of those who make sure the appropriate lighting is properly cued for specific scenes, and those who work sound boards are critical to the success of any stage production.
As people of faith, God calls us to do the important internal work of spiritual transformation, so that the light of Christ can shine brighter in us. Spiritual maturity occurs when we allow the roots of the Spirt of God to grow deep, shifting our perspectives, influencing our ideologies, changing our character, and healing our hearts. In so doing, we make progress toward becoming the people God envisioned us to be, transforming the world through the love of Christ. May we all spend significant time tending to the vital work of internal transformation, so that we become beacons of hope and grace.
Gracious Lord, thank you for those who spread the gospel in ways that are not always visible. Give them the assurance that their work is important and needed. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
- Mary Hunt Webb