In Philippians 2:25-30 we read these words Paul, ‘Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.’
What an amazing citation. What an incredibly moving testimony by one man about another. The words are those of St Paul about a man called Epaphroditus. Paul commended him in fulsome terms. He calls him a true brother, a co-worker and a soldier. First, we have a familial reference, followed by a collegial one and thirdly, he paints military imagery.
Paul then changes perspective. He looks from the viewpoint of the church in Philippi. This man by the name of Epaphroditus, who they sent as a messenger to help Paul in his time of need was no ordinary messenger. He was a man who was willing to put his life on the line because of his commitment to the gospel and to Jesus Christ. Here was a risk-taker and loyal foot soldier to the core. Those two primary commitments outworked themselves in his practical and wholehearted ministry to Paul.
Epaphroditus risked his life for the work of Christ. He went beyond the call of ordinary duty. He put his neck on the line to such an extent that he almost died. He was doing for Paul what the members of the church in Philippi could not do because they were separated by time and space. Epaphroditus rose to the task. In the course of working hard, he almost died. Although we do not know the exact circumstance, what we know is that he was desperately ill and at death’s door. But God delivered him.
The challenge for all of us is very clear. Are we willing to risk all for Jesus? Are we prepared to carry the load for others? Are we ready to put our lives on the line to serve individuals who are serving Christ, in order to see that the gospel is proclaimed and their ministry blessed? Are we willing to risk it all for others, ultimately serving Jesus our King? Epaphroditus did; he went beyond the expected. What about you?
Copyright Emmanuel Mbakwe 2014©
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