No schoolboy or schoolgirl is properly educated without having a sound foundation in grammar. To lack knowledge in this is a burden and a barrier in future life. No one untaught in it can be a competent teacher in any academic discipline, for it is used every time we write or speak.
There are passages in the Word of God where statements are made regarding those who served God, and it is interesting to note the importance of adverbs and adjectives in the references to them in the Scriptures. This is a comment on their service, and accurately records their deeds or character. It is an assessment that cannot now be altered.
The list in Romans 16 is very impressive and the details of all who are mentioned make a roll call of excellence in the service of God. But the use of one particular word on two occasions calls two sisters to our attention: "Mary, who bestowed much labour on us (v.6), and "the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord" (v.12). This does not demean the service of others. Who could not think highly of Priscilla and Aquila? But in what work was Mary involved which merited the extra praise. What service had the beloved Persis performed in the past (the past tense is used) which moved Paul to qualify the verb when referring to this sister who may no longer have been able to serve as once she had done?
One adjective also stands out notably in the record. There were those who were dear to Paul and to whom he referred as "beloved", but on one occasion he finds it necessary to change the adjective to one of greater force, so he writes of "my wellbeloved Epaenetus" (v.5). Surely this was earned, not merely because he was the firstfruits in the gospel in his area, but by some act that had especially endeared him to the apostle.
Another list can be found in Colossians 4, where we find two beautiful uses of two adjectives. Both Tychicus and Onesimus are beloved and faithful. How carefully Paul used his words. Tychicus is "a beloved brother, and a faithful minister" (v.7), but Onesimus is "a faithful and beloved brother" (v.9). Paul did not use the word "minister" (servant) of Onesimus as the runaway slave had still to put matters right with Philemon. He cannot, however, refrain from pointing out that he was faithful to the Lord, even although in the days prior to his salvation he had been unfaithful to his master. To emphasise this he placed the word faithful first.
No such list would be complete without reference to Onesiphorus in 2 Timothy 1 and the adverbs associated with him. It may be, as it is his household that is mentioned and not the man himself, that he had gone to be with the Lord. Irrespective of that, in Ephesus he had oft refreshed Paul in difficult days (v.16), and in Rome he had sought Paul out "very diligently" (v.17). "Diligently" modifies "sought out", and "very" modifies "diligently". What effort marked his diligent search of Rome, not ceasing until, as Paul states, "he found me".
As we look back at our own service, what adjectives and adverbs will be used of it. It may be that they will be of a different order to those that we have considered, for such words do not only commend, but also condemn. Perhaps, for some, it may only be said that they served reluctantly; others may have given sparingly; again there are those who may only have been unreliable servants and perhaps even carnal saints.
But this is still the day of opportunity. It ought to be our desire to ensure that adjectives and adverbs of the commendable variety will be used of our work for the Lord and of our relationship with other saints. This will mark us out from the indifferent and idle in the assembly. This will set us apart from the self-centred and slothful.
To the two servants who had been given five and two talents, and who had traded to gain more, the returning master said, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Mt 25.21,23). The time of the masters absence was their day of opportunity to gain the commendation expressed in the two adjectives. Today is the day of the Lords absence, our day of opportunity. What adverbs and adjectives will be used of us at the Judgment Seat?