by Eld Yap Chee Kian
Rom 16:1 – 24
How would you like to be remembered?
There is something in us that wants to see ourselves remembered. A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold [Prov 22:1]. The meaning here is that a good name is more desirable than great riches.
I came across an article on the Natural Bridge of Virginia. It is alleged that George Washington came to the site in 1750 as a young surveyor and that he had carved the initials “G.W.” on the wall of the bridge, 7 m up. Historians have accepted this as proof that he indeed surveyed the bridge. Even the first President of USA felt the desire to be remembered by carving his name on the rock.
Roll call of heroes
Most of the time, we will quickly read through the long list of names recorded in the Bible. We are familiar with Hebrews chapter 11 which is often been referred to as “The Faith Hall of Fame”. We may be intimidated by these giants of faith.
In the last chapter of Romans, Paul listed 33 names of men and women. The passage can be divided into three parts – greetings to the brothers and sisters in Rome, warning of false brethren and lastly greetings from the brethren who were with Paul. I would urge you to read through the name list for it has much to encourage us. This short article permits me to mention the names of only a few of them.
We were told that the letter was written down by Tertius (v22). I can imagine the brethren gathered at the home of Gaius (v23) for fellowship when the epistle was penned. Phoebe brought the epistle along the hazardous journey from Corinth to Rome on one of her business trips. Paul exhorted those in Rome to receive this beloved sister in the Lord as she had been a succourer of many and himself. This wonderful epistle was preserved for us because of what they had done.
Epaenetus is noteworthy. There is no other record of him except in this passage. Paul cherished this beloved brother and he was not forgotten because he was the first to exercise faith and to believe the gospel in Paul’s ministry.
We can glean some details about Paul’s relatives as well. Six of the names mentioned were his kinsmen (v7, 11, 21b). Two of them, Andronicus and Junia were in Corinth and they were believers before Paul. I have no doubt that their prayer must have affected him as we recalled how he persecuted the early church. Even the apostles held them in high regard and at some point in time they were fellow prisoners with Paul (read v7 again). Every one is to pray for their family members.
Paul also mentioned another kinsman, Herodian(v11). We do not know whether Herodian was a believer but he was serving Narcisuss, a nobleman. Commentators believe Herodian was a Christian because he was mentioned together with Apelles who was of Aristobulus’ household (v10). Paul said that Apelles was approved in Christ. How would you like these words to be inscribed on your epitaph, “Tested and approved in Christ.” Both these men were probably slaves who became Christians. There were Christians in these royal households and they have come to exercise great influence on their masters. God has placed some of us in position of influence and we are to be the salt and light of the earth.
Several years ago, I was introduced to the “Seven habits of highly effective people” by Stephen Covey. One of the exercises impacted me deeply. We were invited to imagine going to a funeral of a loved one. As you walked down to the front of the room and look inside the casket, you suddenly come face to face with yourself. This is your funeral three years from now and people have come to honour you, to express feelings of love and appreciation for your life.
Now think deeply. What would you like each of them to say about you and your life? What kind of husband, wife, father or mother would you like their words to reflect? What kind of son, daughter or cousin? What kind of friend? What kind of colleague?
Right now, if we’re not careful, we’re going to leave a legacy of selfishness, where the focus of our life has been ourselves. I conclude with a stanza from a poem by Charles Studd:
Only one life, twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.