Recent research has found that relationships with coworkers are the most significant predictor of job satisfaction. A study from Tel Aviv University found the level of support from coworkers affected employees’ health more than any other factor in the workplace.
When we are in Christ, part of our identity is “coworker.” We don’t have to be in full-time vocational ministry to be coworkers in Christ; we are spiritual colleagues with other believers based on our shared commitment to Jesus and His gospel. Our passage today provides a snapshot on the importance of being spiritual coworkers.
Paul asked the Christians in Rome to extend his greetings to dozens of his fellow laborers. Some names are familiar: many of us know Priscilla and Aquila, who worked with Paul and tutored Apollos (v. 3; see Acts 18), and Timothy was one of Paul’s most faithful companions (v. 21). But most of the rest of these names appear only here. Why would Scripture devote so many verses to naming obscure people?
First, all of these people were important to Paul and were colleagues in Christ, even if they weren’t high-profile leaders. Fame doesn’t reflect value. Second, these verses highlight the importance of different people serving with their gifts. Deacons and apostles and church leaders are mentioned (vv. 1–7). Those with the gifts of hospitality and friendship are included (vv. 8–9, 23). People who worked hard behind the scenes are recognized, along with the ministry of Tertius, who supported Paul by writing this letter (vv. 12, 22).
Finally, this passage reminds us that even Paul needed the support of his spiritual coworkers. As our key verse says, this labor for the Lord is not in vain.
Apply the Word
In a survey about the hardest part of being a missionary, half the respondents replied, “Getting along with other missionaries!” Christians are not exempt from tensions with colleagues in ministry. Pray for the leadership of your church, for cohesion and appreciation, and seek to recognize and appreciate the ministry of your coworkers in Christ.