Annually on the first Monday of September we celebrate Labor Day. This day celebrates the contributions and achievements of men and women through their labor. For a multitude, it is a three-day weekend ending the summer season. However, in the Bible there is a different type of labor that is mentioned that is unending. It is viewed as “labor in the Lord.”
Paul, the Apostle, sent greetings to individuals at the church in Rome. Romans 16:12 NKJV states his greetings to three of the women:
“Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord.”
Theologians believe Tryphena and Tryphosa were probably sisters and possibly even twins. In looking at their names you see it was a common practice to name twins of the same root word. Their names meant “dainty” and “luxurious.” Some believe Persis’ name denotes that she was perhaps a slave or former slave. Nevertheless, these women were absolute workhorses in their service for the Lord. The NIV renders this verse as:
“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.”
I emphasized these words in bold because these three women truly worked hard. The Greek word here is “kŏpiaō” and means to feel fatigue, to work hard, labor, toil, or be wearied. If you have ever come to the end of your day and just dropped down in complete exhaustion, you get the picture. This is not promoting that you should wear yourself out day in and day out. It is a picture of giving yourself fully to our Lord.
Notice how the Scriptures point out that their labor was “in the Lord.” It denotes a close personal association. It is being “one with,” “in union with,” or “joined closely to.”
John 15:4 NJKV states:
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
As we remain in submission and in obedience to our Lord, He accomplishes His Kingdom work through us. We see this again in Philippians 2:13, which states:
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
What a privilege it is to labor in the Lord knowing that you do not have to rely on your own strength, gifting, or wisdom. You realize that “abiding in the Lord” is the only way you can “labor in the Lord.”
When you look at what Paul wrote in his letter, Tryphena and Tryphosa could have gotten jealous over what Paul said about Persis. In relationship to Persis’ labor, he used words that he did not use with the other two. He said Persis was “beloved” and also that she has worked “very hard” in the Lord. Now I point this out because women have a tendency to compare themselves with one another. This is a tool of the devil and is not wise.
If you have ever run track, you have to stay in your lane and keep your focus straight ahead. The same is true with your labor. Don’t try to mimic what someone else is doing. Be true to who God made you to be and keep your eyes on Him. He is the One you want to receive your labor orders from, and the One you want to work in and through you. It does not matter what someone else is achieving. They are not you. They cannot do what you do in quite the same way. If you try to be someone else, you will not accomplish what our Lord wants to do through you. So, continue your eternal labor in the Lord that He alone may be glorified.