Who cares about the laundry list of people Paul is thanking? What application does it have for us today? This seems to be a common question that arises when getting to the close of a book of the Bible. In fact, in many small group settings, a large sigh is heard when chosen to read over the list of names, hoping to pronounce them right and wondering why it matters that it is read at all.
As I ponder over these names of countless individuals that helped and ministered with the Apostle Paul these phrases stand out, "fellow workers in Christ Jesus", "They risked their lives for me," "all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them", "worked very hard for you", "They are outstanding among the apostles", "tested and approved in Christ". These are among the few attributes that Paul gives them when instructing the Romans to accept and greet them in the Lord. They obviously come very highly recommended by Paul and deserve a moment for us to ponder as well.
These men and women helped spread the gospel and preserve the written instructions of Paul in the early push of Christianity. Where would we be without these people risking their lives to share the good news of Christ Jesus? What they did was amazing and unbelievable. They evangelized the known world at that time in thirty years. What Paul said about them is true, not only for the believers in Rome but for us as well. They did work very hard for us, they were outstanding among the apostles, they are tested and approved in Christ! As we read about them we should be grateful that these men and women risked their lives for Christ so that we could know him 2000 years later.
What a great testament to know that what you are doing now could affect someone outside of your time and influence. These people had no idea of their impact in the world, they just loved the Lord and spread His good news. We can do the same. We can live a changed life by our relationship with Jesus. Not worrying about the things we do or don't do, but living in the moment with the Holy Spirit as our guide and teacher. If we listen to His direction and follow His leading then we, like these men and women, can bless the body of Christ and encourage each other in Lord, not realizing its impact on others.