I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
(Philippians 2:25-30 ESV)
Epaphroditus was a messenger sent from the church in Philippi to bring Paul a monetary gift while he was in prison in Rome. Apparently the Philippians had not kept up with their support of Paul. Sending the gift with Epaphroditus “completed” their service.
Its not enough to have good intentions. We have to act on those intentions. Too often we get caught up in “when… then” thinking. We tell ourselves “when” something happens, “then” I’ll do something. “When I have time, I will volunteer with my church.” “When I get a raise I’ll give to help others”.
The problem with this type of thinking is that “when” never arrives. There is always an excuse that perpetuates “when”. The time to serve Christ is now. No matter what else is going on in your life, you have the time and talent to serve God today in some way, however small it may seem.
The life of a follower of Christ is not passive. It is not enough to have good thoughts. We need to be active. We are called to set aside our own comforts and desires to serve Jesus even if it is risky to do so.
Epaphroditus served by leaving the comfort of his home in Philippi and journeying, on foot, to Rome for the sake of someone else’s (Paul’s) comfort. Depending on the route taken he could have walked almost 1,300 miles or 640 miles (the latter with a boat trip across the Adriatic). Either way the journey was not short or easy. But he did it. He didn’t achieve fame (although he is mentioned in the Bible which is pretty cool). He didn’t gain hundreds of Twitter followers. He did it for God.
Epaphroditus served God almost to the point of death. The take-away here is not that God wants us to die in our service to Him, although He may need us to. The point is that our service should be sacrificial. It should cost us something: time… money… convenience.
Back in Philippians 2:8 Paul explained how Jesus was obedient to God the Father to the point of death. Jesus is our model. He served God even when it cost Him something. He was humble – He looked out for the interests of others at the expense of His own [Philippians 2:3-4]. So did Epaphroditus. So should we.
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