Summary: 1. Be willing to serve the Lord (vs. 25). 2. Sympathize with other people (vs. 25-27a). 3. Be willing to sacrifice yourself (vs. 27a & 29-30). 4. See the Lord’s mercy (vs. 27).
How to Live a Lovely Life
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Sept. 2, 2012
*Pastor Frank Harrington told about a little girl who kept a daily notebook. And one day her dad noticed that she had drawn a picture of him in her book. Underneath, she had carefully printed his name and address.
*When he asked her why, she told him that she had been watching a movie about amnesia. And she said, “If I ever forget who I am, I want everybody to know who I belong to.” (1)
*As Christians, we want everybody to know that we belong to our Heavenly Father. And the best way we can let them know is to live a Christ-like life.
*That’s the way Epaphroditus lived. That long Greek name simply means “lovely” or “devoted to love,” so you could call him “Mr. Lovely.” And he lived a lovely life. We can too. These verses show us how.
1. First: Be willing to serve the Lord.
*Epaphroditus was the kind of Christian who was willing to serve the Lord. We get a glimpse of this good quality in vs. 25, where Paul said: “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.”
*Remember that Paul was in trouble when he wrote this letter. He was under house arrest in Rome, on trial for his life, and chained between two Roman soldiers. When the Philippian church found out about Paul’s trouble, they realized that he needed their help.
*So they gave what they could, and Epaphroditus said:
-“I’ll take it to him.
-It may be a long, hard, dangerous trip.
-But I’ll take it to him.
-Put me where you need me.”
*So Mr. Lovely became their “messenger and the one who ministered to (Paul’s) need.” Paul called him “my brother,” my “fellow worker,” my “fellow soldier.”
*“Put me where you need me.” -- Mr. Lovely was that kind of Christian.
-And that’s the spirit we need to serve the Lord in church.
*“Lord, I’ll go where You want me to go.
-I’ll do what You want me to do.
-I want to stand in the gap any way I can.”
*When she was 11 years old, Summer Waters of New Zealand wrote a poem about Christians like that:
“I saw Jesus last week.
He was wearing blue jeans and an old shirt.
He was up at the church building;
He was alone and working hard.
For just a minute, He looked like one of our members.
But it was Jesus. I could tell by His smile.
I saw Jesus last Sunday.
He was teaching a Bible Class.
He didn't talk real loud or use long words.
For just a minute, He looked like my Bible teacher.
But it was Jesus. I could tell by His loving voice.
I saw Jesus yesterday.
He was at the hospital visiting a friend who was sick.
They prayed together quietly.
For just a minute, He looked like Brother Jones.
But it was Jesus. I could tell by the tears in His eyes.
I saw Jesus this morning.
He was in my kitchen making breakfast
And mixing me a special lunch.
For just a minute, He looked like my Mum.
But it was Jesus. I could feel the love from His heart.
I see Jesus everywhere.
Taking food to the sick.
Being friendly to the newcomer.
And just for a minute, I think He is someone I know.
But it's always Jesus. I can tell by the way He serves.” (2)
*We can have a lovely life by serving the Lord.
2. But also sympathize with other people.
*Epaphroditus was the kind of Christian who sympathized with other people. We see this quality in vs. 25&26. Listen again to what the Apostle Paul said about Mr. Lovely.
25. 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;
26. since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.
*Epaphroditus longed to see his friends in Philippi again, but that’s not all. Paul said Epaphroditus was “distressed.” The KJV says he was “full of heaviness.”
-And why? -- Not because Epaphroditus was sick.
-But because his friends at Philippi heard he was sick.
*I can hear him now: “Paul, I want to stay here and help you, but I really need to go home. You know my people heard that I was sick, and I am concerned about them. I am greatly troubled, because I don’t want them worrying about me.”
*Epaphroditus dearly loved the people in his church back home. He sympathized with them. And even though he had been sick to the point of death, Epaphroditus was more concerned about his church family than he was for himself.