Summary: we can all learn from Epaphroditus, and become heroes of faith, and not just for one day!
Heroes of Faith!!! when we think of ‘heroes of the bible’ who springs to mind, Hebrews 11 talks at length of some of the ‘heroes of faith’ in the old testament, mighty servants of God, ...and of course we have the author of our text Paul who was one of the new covenant heroes of faith, but just every now and again the word throws up what we might call an ‘unsung hero of faith’, a garry neville to your david beckham if you like! People who maybe its easy for our eyes to skim over when we read the word, but from whom we can learn much
....here we have ‘Epaphroditus’ who a phillippian who had been sent to assist Paul in his mission...and now Paul is sending him back as a messenger to Phillipi, and backing him up with what today we might call a testimonial, or
character report. Its very interesting that at the beginning of Phil 2 Paul outlines the criteria if you like, of being a christian, being a servant of christ
lets look at that
1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
so from that we can extract that the criteria of a christian life has to include the following
2 one in spirit and purpose
3 nothing out of selfish ambition & vain conceit, obedience
4 humility (others better than yourselves)
5 interests of others ie a sacrificial life
interesting then isn’t it that at the end of this chapter in Pauls ’testimonial of Epaphroditus’ he describes him as
firstly a brother
.....thereby implying that paul saw him as a loved and valued member off the ‘family business’
secondly “a fellow worker & soldier”
here was a guy on the same ‘wavelength’ as Paul, a guy who would get his hands dirty and bold warrior of the gospel
thirdly a man sent,... “sent to take care of my needs”
he was a man sent, a man obedient to the call of God, it would have probably been much easier for him to stop at home amongst his family & friends rather that put himself in the firing line with Paul, but he put his own agenda aside and went
fourth, others first...humility
despite his predicament and illness, his first thought is for others, that they wouldn’t worry
finally he was prepared to be sacrificial
his ministry with Paul nearly cost him is life
here is a guy then who had obtained, a good report, a guy who was selfless in his service of the Lord and his desire to see the kingdom grow,how well simply by being faithfully, obedient and available,
A few years ago I used to play cricket for a local team called white coppice, some of you may know it, the field itself is set in an idyllic if remote location, and every saturday morning before the game a lovely guy called geoff haydock used to make his way up there to set up. Now geoff was getting on a bit, his playing days we behind him but he had a wonderful enthusiasm for the game and the team which he used to serve by opening up the club house, getting the kits ready, opening the scorebox, making sure there were provisions for the tea time bun fight and so on. Imagine our horror when one sunny saturday afternoon we turned up to find everything locked and barred, and in darkness in the confusion someone noticed a small note pinned on the window of the pavilion it was from geoff and read.....
Once upon a time, there were four people;
Their names were Everybody, Somebody, Nobody and Anybody.
Whenever there was an important job to be done,
Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
When Nobody did it, Everybody got angry because it was Everybody’s job.
Everybody thought that Somebody would do it,
but Nobody realised that Nobody would do it.
So consequently Everybody blamed Somebody
when Nobody did what
Anybody could have done in the first place.
if Epaphroditus had been an ‘anybody, somebody or nobody’ and hadn’t responded to Gods call to help Paul, then we may be missing a chunk of the new testament!
Geoff had a servant heart, Epaphroditus had one too, and that’s why he obtained such a glowing report from Paul, the heart of every christian must be one of sacrificial service, the of laying down our lives for others, and the advancement of the Gospel......who is the greatest in the kingdom? asked the disciples.... the servant of all Jesus replied