When we think of serving others, many times we think about simply doing the job God has called us to do. And certainly that’s important to do.
You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers, to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it. (15-16)
Paul recognized this man Stephanas and his family for their service to God. And he said we should submit to leaders such as them, who not only join in the ministry, but labor at it with all their hearts.
Ministry is a difficult thing. Certainly God has given us gifts and that makes our work easier to do. But still, we need to put in the time and effort to do the things God has called us to do well. And Stephanas was such a man.
But then Paul adds,
I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition. (17-18)
How often do we think of the importance of refreshing the spirits of others? There may be some people you know that are very diligent in doing their works of service. They may in fact do them very well.
But when people come away from them, they come away not refreshed, but exhausted. Why? Because sometimes these people doing “the Lord’s work,” can be critical, condescending, irritable, and arrogant.
But Stephanas and the others Paul mentioned were not like that. When people came away from them, they came away refreshed. And that’s how we should be.
How about you? How do others see you? Do they feel dragged down when they see you? Would they rather avoid you because of your attitude? Or are they attracted to you? Not just because you’re doing the Lord’s work, but because being around you lifts them up.
May we all be people that refresh those around us as the love of God flows through us.
As Solomon wrote,
A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25)