July 13, 2008

We All Have Promises to Keep

Romans 16:1-16

Our sister Phoebe … has been a great help to many people, including me.
Romans 16:1-2


Most of us tend to avoid Scripture passages like the one we have read today. Paul's personal greetings rank in popularity alongside genealogies and lists of ancient tribe members recorded in the Bible. But let's not miss the gospel found in passages like these. The inclusion of these names at the end of Romans has a lot to say about the importance of community and the promises we make to each other. Paul's love for the people he mentions shines through these verses. These saints labored hard with Paul in ministry, and he wants them to know how much they mean to him. Almost all of the people he mentions here are unknown to us. We know nothing about them except for the little that Paul writes here. But one thing is clear: each of these men and women demonstrated their faith in God by committing themselves to Paul and his apostolic ministry. That's the way it is in the kingdom of God. The promises we make to God tend to get lived out in the commitments we make to other people. In this way, the vertical habit of making promises to God is given a horizontal dimension. Sometimes the best way to be faithful to God is to be faithful to the people he has called us to serve. How are you doing when it comes to keeping your promises to God?

Lord, you give us so many people who help our faith grow. Thank you for also using us to bless the lives of others. By serving others, help us remember we are serving you. Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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