Acting With Eternity In Mind
There isn’t anything that you do for the Lord and for His people that’s ever lost. God marks it down.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello, radio friends. How in the world are you? Doing alright? Well, I’m so glad to be back with you. We’re looking at Romans 16 where Paul is using this last chapter to send greetings to different people and out of his greetings we’re finding some indexes, indices if you want to do it right, some benchmarks of personal progress that we can be aware of. In chapter 16 of Romans, verse 5, he says “Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the first fruits of Achaia unto Christ.”
There is a special relationship between yourself and others whom you win to the Lord particularly as in this case where they are the first person in any given area that you win to Christ. “Epaenetus,” it says, “is the first fruits of Achaia.” When Paul came into this area and gave out the gospel, the first person to respond was especially precious to him. And he said, “my well-beloved.” We had a World Congress in Caracas years ago, with delegates from all over the world and members of Venezuelan churches joining in planning and in presenting eight days of meetings with Congress meetings during the day in a large convention hotel there in Caracas and the evening meetings held in the bull ring.
Now, any of you who’ve travelled in Latin countries know that that is a large amphitheatre, circular in construction with a cleared area in which the process of bull fighting goes on. We rented that arena with its capacity seating of many thousands of people where each night we had a gospel meeting and we had it filled to capacity night after night. Gene Jordan was there and had gotten together a symphony orchestra. People with musical ability he had gotten them from all over different countries, believers who had musical ability, and he put together a very fine orchestra.
And they played some of those Gene Jordan arrangements which combine classical motifs with gospel themes, a gift that God has given him that very few others possess, musical virtuosity and scriptural blessing going hand-in-hand, and so they would present these tremendous concerts and others would sing and we’d have a regular gospel rally and then give out the message and give the gospel invitation and ask people to leave the place where they were seated in the stands and come on down and walk across the bull fight arena into a place of where we could speak with them in an inquiry room and help them to make their commitment to Christ – that was the setup.
Well, we scarcely knew what to expect the first night. There was the concert led by this beautiful orchestra led by our brother Jordan, and there was singing of different songs and various greetings from officials and Christian leaders and then the gospel message and now there came the gospel invitation. As a matter of fact, as I recall, I was giving the invitation through an interpreter and I said, “Now, those of you who wish to receive Christ, just get up from your seat and come across the arena here and so that we can speak with you.
The choir was singing and there was a pause. Didn’t seem to be much happening and I remember in my own heart thinking, “Oh, boy, what if nobody comes?” And then from clear across the other side of the arena, there came a man in a business suit walking erect, dignified, and coming to make his commitment to Christ. Hundreds of others followed that night but I shall always remember the site of that one business man. And as he was walking across the white sands of the bull fight arena, someone leaned over to me and whispered, “That is SeÃ±or so and so. He is an outstanding businessman in Caracas, and he’s coming to Christ.”
Well, you know, that is a point in my memory that I shall always remember and cherish. The first fruits, so to speak, the first results; the one person who was number one in receiving the Lord Jesus Christ in that area, a very special relationship. Could I ask you this question? Has there been a “first fruits”, so to speak, in your life? Have you ever led anybody to the Lord? Now, if you haven’t, you needn’t feel guilty. I’m not trying to lay a guilt trip on you, as they say. But I’m just asking, have you ever led someone to the Lord?
And if you have, do you remember the first one you led to the Lord? And if you do remember, have you kept in touch with that first one that you led to the Lord, just to let him or her know that they’re special to you? It’s something to think about, isn’t it? And perhaps something on which you might like to follow-up? Then he said in verse 6, Romans 16:6, he said, “Greet Mary, who bestowed much labor on us.” Now which Mary this is, we don’t know. She lived in Rome ‘cause this letter was written to people in Rome so she lived in Rome.
She had come there evidently from someplace else because Paul hadn’t gotten to Rome yet when he wrote this letter. So she had come there from someplace else but now she’s there. What she’s doing, we don’t know. Is she the wife of a rich man or some government official? Is she a servant? Who is she? We don’t know. Where does she live? All we know is that she was there in Rome. Where did she come from? We’re not sure. What are we sure of? We’re sure that she had a place in Paul’s heart and we’re sure that she had done something that he described as “bestowing much labor.”
Two thousand years later nearly, that lady whose name and address we don’t really know except that she was a Mary, whose background we don’t know, whose circumstances we don’t know, nearly two thousand years later, she is memorialized in the Word of God as somebody who bestowed much labor on the apostle Paul and his company. What does that mean? She may have welcomed them into her house, she may have made some meals for them, she may have washed their laundry and ironed it, she may have just run errands for them and done things that nobody else was willing to do. I don’t know.
I only know that it was work because it’s the word “labor” that involves really working at it, not just sitting around. It was work. It was done for God’s servant, done willingly because he was bestowed. Anything that is bestowed upon you is a gift. The verb “bestow” means “give as a gift,” so she did it willingly and in the process, not only did she win the hearts of Paul and his company but she became immortal in the memory of Christian people. Now, what does that mean for you? If I came to you and I said, “Are you serving the Lord today?”
You say, “Well, I don’t know. I’m just making a casserole for the church supper.” We got a potluck supper tonight so the people can have a bite to eat before they go out calling and all I’m doing is making a casserole.” Well, now, had you ever stopped to think that maybe this Mary that’s mentioned in Romans 16 verse 6, maybe she made a casserole one day? I don’t know if it was a tuna casserole or chicken or Scallop, potatoes, and ham, or macaroni and hamburger and tomatoes and cheese or whatever?
See I know about those church casseroles – I’ve made a few and eaten the lots more. I don’t know what kind it was but I can guarantee you that she may have done the same thing and she’s remembered for two millennia, nearly two thousand years, she’s remembered because of what she did. Had you stopped to think that what you do today, my dear friend, ordinary, routine, not really religious in nature can be remembered because it was done for God’s servants and for their Lord? Huh?
It’s a great thought, isn’t it? I’ll tell you what being a Christian does – it dignifies and it glorifies all of living. There isn’t anything that doesn’t matter. Everything matters for eternity when you become a Christian. And so if you’re there in the church mister and you’re helping to clean up the church on cleanup day, or if you’re using your particular skill as a carpenter or a roofer or a plumber or an electrician and you’re doing something and you think to yourself sourly, “Boy, it’s a great day. I could be out playing golf today and here I am doing this,” remember brother, you’re doing something that is going to be marked down in the books of glory and it’s going to last for eternity just like Mary’s efforts.
She made a pot of soup and brought it over to the apostle Paul and his company, or she did something else, or maybe she is just what we call a gopher to go for this and go for that, maybe she ran some errands, maybe she mended some clothes. Who knows what she did? It says, “She bestowed much labor.” She did it lovingly and freely as a gift and she got remembered. Will you, my precious friend, do something today lovingly, willingly for God’s work and God’s servants even though it may not be religious and when you do it, will you remember that the Lord marks it down?
I suppose, when we get to glory and we meet this particular Mary, whatever her other name may have been, she’ll be there and when we get there, we meet her, and we say, “Hey, I read about you in Romans. It said you bestowed much labor on Paul. What in the world did you do?” “Oh,” she said, “I don’t know. It didn’t amount to much, you know. What is the importance of cooking a meal or making a bed or washing some laundry? That’s about all I did,” she’ll say. And then the angels standing nearby will remark, “Yes, but it was noticed and it was recorded in the books that last for eternity.”
Oh, beloved, today, do what you do for Jesus even though it’s ordinary, even though it’s routine, even though it’s boring, even though it’s exhausting, even though it’s costly and you wonder whether or not it’s all worthwhile. Remember, there isn’t anything that you do for the Lord and for His people that’s ever lost. God marks it down. This verse about an anonymous person named Mary proves it for all time. Isn’t that great? So be encouraged. If you are one of the rest of us who do a lot of things that don’t seem to be noticed, cheer up! God notices it.
And “A book of remembrance,” it said, “was written before Him for those that love God and who think upon His name.” God remembers you and all that you do. If He has time enough to number every empty hair follicle on my bald head – they’re all numbered – he has also time enough to record the things you and I do for Jesus. Hallelujah for that.
Dear Father today, help us to do what we do in the light of eternity, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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