Big idea: There are no small people in the work of the gospel.
Pop quiz: what is your maternal great-great-great grandmother's name? The odds are pretty good that you do not know. In one sense, that is a pretty sad realization. In most circumstances, our own family will not remember us in a few generations, much less anyone else. But there is good news! Romans 16 seems like an odd thing to include in the Bible: a list of names, many of which we never see anywhere else. Who are all of these people? Two millennia later, no one on earth knows. But God does.
At the end of the masterpiece of the letter to the Romans, Paul thanks all of the many people who helped him. Some of their roles would seem important to us, and some might seem trivial. But none of them went unnoticed by God, who led Paul to record them for all of time in His holy word. That is better than their descendants remembering them, because God's mind never fades. It means that you and I may think that our place in God's work is insignificant, but nothing we do for God ever goes unnoticed.
That ought to motivate us to work hard, knowing that even what people never know about will bring Him glory. Picking up a piece of trash in the church parking lot, giving someone a ride to services or turning off a light that has been missed might seem to be insignificant and no one is likely to pat you on the back for it - but God sees. Maybe you show kindness to someone that others have missed; God forever records that act of worship next to your name. Do not be discouraged! There are no small people in the work of the gospel.
There is another important implication here. If other people's work is important enough for God to recognize, it is important enough for us to recognize too. Thank a teacher, a nursery worker or a greeter this week for the blessing they are in your life. Someone else's service may go unnoticed by many, but if it is precious in the eyes of God, it should be precious in our eyes too.
Discussion idea: When you serve God, are you ever tempted to wonder if someone will notice? How would it motivate you to remember that God always notices?
Prayer focus: Ask God to help you look to Him for approval and reward.