“Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth…” Proverbs 27:2
If you’ve walked through an eastern forest or meadow, you’re familiar with the well-known Eastern Phoebe. It flits from perch to perch snatching up moths, flies, and about anything else that zips by. And in self-recognition of its own prowess as a tyrant flycatcher, it shouts out praises to its own name – Fee-beee! Fee-beee! – while flicking its tail up and down in a proud signal of success.
Eastern Phoebe perched in a garden. Sayornis phoebe is a North American tyrant flycatcher bird. Photographed June 17, 2020 in Walton County, Georgia USA. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.
But how about the Phoebe of the Bible? Even the most diligent students may not know her, as she only has one mention within all sixty-six books. In Romans 16:1, the Apostle Paul writes, “I commend unto you Phoebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea…”
Anonymity and obscurity is typical of most unsung heroes of the faith. What is the name of the woman at the well, or the widow that gave the two mites? And what of the missionaries and martyrs throughout the centuries that gave their own lives while not desiring fame or shouting aloud their own name?
Although the Biblical Phoebe wasn’t shouting her own name like the avian Phoebe, she still had great impact. Some believe that Sister Phoebe was entrusted to hand-deliver Paul’s letter to the Romans. This epistle – quite possibly containing the greatest writings on Christian doctrine – had to be safely guarded from loss, theft and moisture on the nearly 800 mile journey from Corinth to Rome. Imagine if she had failed in her task. Would the revelation that salvation is by faith alone, and the resulting Protestant Reformation, have ever taken place? The Biblical Phoebe’s impact on Christianity receives little recognition, as is typical with most Christian servants.
Luke 17:10 “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”
Yes, her name is recorded in Scripture (which is more than most receive) but even greater is the fact that her name is written in heaven. The unsung Christian heroes of this world – the pastors, missionaries, evangelists, orphanage workers, soup kitchen attendants, nursery workers, and more – all receive this wonderful privilege, even if not recognized in this life. What more could we ask for!
Luke 10:20 “…but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”
Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.