Philippians 2:25-30 describes the importance of Christian community along with the risk and the reward of ministry.
Philippians 2:25-30 describes the importance of Christian community
V.25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus
REFLECT AND RECORD
Consider a difficult time in your life when someone came alongside of you. Or perhaps, you came alongside of another. How was comfort provided? What are helpful things to keep in mind in those situations?
Christian community is powerful. It provides mutual encouragement, accountability, and support. A safety net when Christ-followers encounter difficult circumstances. To relieve hardship and ease suffering. Although sometimes there is nothing you can actually do. Just be there. Which is often more helpful than you think. Because it’s not about saying comforting words. Quoting the right scripture passage. Or even talking at all. Your concerned presence says it all.
Epaphroditus was that presence for Paul. He was sent as the official representative for the Philippian church. And he served Paul well. Because Paul described him in glowing terms.
- fellow worker
- fellow soldier
- your messenger
- minister to my need
That’s a pretty impressive list for someone coming to the aid of a fellow Christ-follower. Is there someone in your life that represents that to you? Or you to someone else?
Philippians 2:25-30 describes the risk of ministry
V.27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me…
Unfortunately, Epaphroditus became seriously ill while serving Paul. And it stressed them both out. Epaphroditus worried that his fellow church members thought he was flaking out on his ministry assignment and Paul worried Epaphroditus would die on his watch. Paul was also concerned about the reception Epaphroditus would get when he returned home.
It’s a reminder that ministry offers no guarantees. God does not automatically put a hedge of protection around you because you serve in His name. Even though we often think he is supposed to. Instead Jesus says to take up a cross and follow him. Wow! That’s an effective recruitment slogan. Serve the kingdom of God. See the world. Oh yeah, and by the way, it might cost you.
Philippians 2:25-30 describes the reward of ministry
V.29-30 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ
The Greek word for “honor” is ĕntimŏs, which means valued, more honorable, precious, in reputation. In other words, Paul tells the Philippian church to give Epaphroditus a hero’s welcome when he returns home.
And so we’re presented with a puzzling paradox. A confusing conflict of competing values. How giving is better than receiving? Serving better than being served? The hardship of ministry more rewarding than the pleasure of comfort?
Obviously, the reward is intangible, not material. A spiritual dividend that floods the heart with overflowing joy. And a fulfilling sense of contentment. Unmoved by hazards. Even the possibility of death.
Is this what you signed up for? And are you all in?