I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also. (Romans 16: 1-2)
If you died today what would be written about you? What would be your living testimony? As a Christian, your testimony should read as Phoebe’s. Phoebe is a little known character who appears as a kind of footnote of Paul’s letter to the Romans where she heads the number of characters whom Paul sends his greetings to. She is a good example of a living testimony.
Firstly she is referred to as a sister. This suggests that Phoebe was an active member of the local church, not merely a pew warmer. She fellowshipped and showed others she was a Christian by her love for the local church. As a church we are called to function as a family for we “are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens of the saints and members of God’s household” Ephesians 2:19. When we live as a household loving and serving one another we attract people who live in a broken world of fractured and dysfunctional families .This familial love is what makes a living testimony, yes they will know we are Christians by our love.
Secondly Paul calls Phoebe a servant which means she did not only form part of a close knit fellowship but also served with the gifts that God had given her for the Bible tells us: “that each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” 1 Peter 4:10. From this letter we can infer that Phoebe took the teachings of Jesus Christ seriously who called his disciples through generations to be servants. Jesus Himself portrayed what it meant to serve by washing the feet of his disciples. In his very own words he testified: “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28. Phoebe left behind a living testimony due to her service to others.
Thirdly, Paul calls Phoebe a saint deserving of a good reception from the Romans:”that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you”(Rom 16:2). The word saint is drawn from the Latin word sanctus which means set apart or consecrated or holy. Phoebe was not simply a holy relic, but one whose life was characterised by holiness and righteousness that could be seen. If we desire for our testimony to outlive us, we must seek daily to live holy and righteous lives.
Consequently, Phoebe was known for being a great help to many including Paul.According to church history, Phoebe is said to have been a wealthy woman who used her wealth to aid many in the church.The Bible exhorts us not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased (Hebrews 13:16).You may not be materially rich like Phoebe was but our good and gracious God has given you a gift of the Holy Spirit that you can use to help of others in the body and fulfilling different functions.When we use our spiritual gifts and other gifts to serve generously then will we be a living testimony like Phoebe.
Then let’s use make it our holy ambition to be like sister Phoebe who remains a living testimony many centuries after she entered her reward. Let us therefore endeavour to belong in a fellowship, serve with the gifts God granted us, live a saintly lives and be a great help to those who are around us.