Know the Sheep By Name

By Holly Culhane

 

Sometimes a message is so universally applicable that you have to share it. The following Wake-Up Call entry by J. D. Walt, of Seedbed — sought-after speaker and conference leader, published author, and songwriter — is exactly that. Be encouraged to read it as a shepherd of the sheep the Father has entrusted to your care, and ask yourself how well you know the sheep you influence by name… 

 

LOVE ALWAYS HAS A NAME 

 

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus.  

They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. 

Greet also the church that meets at their house. 

Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. 

Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. 

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. 

Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord. 

Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys. 

Greet Apelles, whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test. 

Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. 

Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew. 

Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. 

Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. 

Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord. 

Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. 

Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them. 

Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the Lord’s people who are with them. 

Greet one another with a holy kiss. 

Romans 16:3-16 

 

“I’ll be honest. In my old way of reading the Bible for most of my Bible reading life, I didn’t really read chapters like this. I took what I call the Old Testament ‘genealogy’ approach — I skimmed it — which is another way of saying I skipped it. I mean, beyond being a marvelous authenticator of the historicity of the ancient document, what’s the point of me knowing about people with names like Asyncritus, Phlegm, Philologus, Tryphena, and Tryphosa? (Phlegm? What an unfortunate name!) 

 

“And then I think about the little church I now pastor and names like Tricia, Seth, Laura Beth, Thelma, and Drew. Love always has a name. Asyncritus, Phlegm, Philologus, Tryphena, and Tryphosa . . . they are now Tricia, Seth, Laura Beth, Thelma, and Drew. From the first century to the twenty-first century, the nets of our local churches come down to the knots and the names, don’t they? No names — no knots. No knots — no nets. 

 

Now, because there’s a good chance you skipped over the text today, please go back and read it now, and slowly for effect. 

 

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus.  

They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. 

Greet also the church that meets at their house. 

Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. 

Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. 

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. 

Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord. 

Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys. 

Greet Apelles, whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test. 

Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. 

Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew. 

Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. 

Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. 

Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord. 

Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. 

Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them. 

Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the Lord’s people who are with them. 

Greet one another with a holy kiss. 

Romans 16:3-16 

 

“Chapter 16 of Romans tells us Paul was good with names; not like a smooth politician but like a person who loved people. Love always has a name. And speaking of names, I’ve got a bone to pick with many of you—those of you who regularly say, ‘I’m not good with names.’ It’s just another way of saying, ‘Your name does not matter to me,” which is shorthand for, ‘You really aren’t that important to me.’ Why not just say, ‘I’m bad with people’? Sure, we all forget names, especially of new people we meet. We don’t need more gimmicks to help us remember (though there are worse things). What we need is more love. I’m not particularly good with remembering names either, most of us aren’t, but you will never hear those words come out of my mouth. I learned a saying a long ago from one of my early mentors (whose death preceded my birth): 

‘A person’s name is to them the sweetest sound in any language.’ — Dale Carnegie 

 

“Imagine how their faces lit up as they heard their name read aloud by Phoebe (even Phlegm)! Maybe I’m beyond the scope of the text now, but have you noticed how many people wear name tags these days in our everyday working world? From drive-through windows to grocery store workers to call center employees—who always begin by telling you their name? How about we start calling their names, with respect and even affection? Did you notice the word that is used seventeen times in today’s fourteen verses in this sixteenth chapter? It’s greet. How about this? Anytime we see someone with a name tag, let’s greet them by name. It’s one of the little ways of the love of Jesus — making much of other people, celebrating them by speaking their name. What if it’s the first sound of awakening to them? 

 

“So how about that! The most seemingly irrelevant and formerly skipped-over chapter in the book turns out to hold the most practical implication and application ever!  

 

“Love always has a name.” 

 

So do the sheep you influence and impact. Let’s remember Paul’s example.  

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Presence Point

Presence Point equips leaders to intentionally live into their calling as shepherds in the lives of those they lead, and partners with multipliers to do the same within their sphere of influence.

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