WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL – Serving With Excellence

Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Do you recall coming across those names anywhere in your reading of the New Testament? Probably not and you wouldn’t be alone. What about Persis? Yes, you are excused for thinking “Who?” These three women are virtually unknown to us today, yet towards the end of his letter to the Roman church, the apostle Paul took the time to mention them by name in his personal greetings (see Romans 16:1-16). In verse 12 we read, “Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet my beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord” (AMP).

Interestingly, Paul did not establish the church in Rome (see Romans 1:7-12) and these individuals were not known to him personally. However, he obviously had heard about them and knew of their work. According to Joseph Benson’s Commentary on verse 12, Tryphaena and Tryphosa were “probably two sisters; who labour in the Lord — in the service of the Lord, according to their stations: as did also Persis, who seems to be here termed beloved, because she was distinguished among many for her fidelity and diligence.” The Biblical Illustrator sheds some probable light on the difference in greetings: “Tryphaena and Tryphosa laboured in the Lord; Persis laboured ‘much’ in the Lord. Tryphaena and Tryphosa may represent either those who can only do a little, but who do that little with all their heart . . . On the other hand, Persis is always at work; she can never do enough; her godly ambition is never satisfied.” If true, it is significant that Paul recognized both efforts. Whatever we do in the service of the Lord, whether it be little or much, none of it is insignificant.

As I reflected on the greeting to these women, I was reminded of Paul’s instructions to the church at Colosse, “Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17). As the three labored in the church, they were probably not recognized by their congregation. Maybe there were disputes about the role of women in the church as it is in some circles today. Yet they continued to work in such an outstanding way that Paul felt it necessary to salute them. As the Bible Illustrator puts it, “To the persons noticed it must have been gratifying and stimulating, and while elevating them in the estimation of their brethren, it enlarged their sphere of useful influence.”

What does all of this have to do with you and me? Scottish author and Christian congregational minister George Macdonald was right when he said, “It is our best work that God wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. I think He must prefer quality to quantity.” Whatever area of ministry we are involved in, whether voluntary or paid, full-time or otherwise, in front or behind the scenes, let us do it with excellence, even when no one is looking. That can be very difficult to do as somewhere within some of us is a desire to have our efforts recognized and acknowledged by those around us. If we are not careful, we can become discouraged and our efforts leave much to be desired. But press on we must and with the right attitude. Paul puts it this way, “Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you [actually] serve” (Colossians 3:23-24). Tryphaena, Tryphosa, and Persis did not know Paul would single them out for recognition but he did. Two thousand years later their names are on our lips as individuals from whom you and I can learn about serving with excellence.


  • Colin Wilson

    Easy going, dislike negativity, and an optimist. I believe that amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday living, each day is a gift from God and if we stop and think about it, there is at least one thing for which we ought to be thankful. In addition, I believe that every day is a great day to be alive. No matter how bad we think we have it, there are any number of people who are on the "other side" who, if they could, would gladly trade places with us. Email me at [email protected]

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