Epaphroditus: "With No Thought for Himself"
Epaphroditus: “With No Thought For Himself”
By Paul R. Blake
One cannot help but like Epaphroditus. He's one of those seldom noticed, infrequently mentioned, self-effacing heroes, who, working together single-mindedly with others like himself, spread the gospel throughout the whole world in 31 years. It is evident that Paul liked him, too. The imprisoned apostle calls Epaphroditus "my brother," describing him with such intense terms of praise as to leave no doubt about Paul's deep respect and affection for him. Paul's characterizations of him as worker and warrior, messenger and minister give insight into his unselfish, considerate nature (Phil. 2:25). This devout man who took no thought for himself and focused only on serving others becomes our model of quiet toil for Christ. He is worthy of admiration and imitation.
There are few awards for the common laborer. Managers and foremen get production bonuses and honors at the company dinner, while the laborers stand day after day sweating in assembly lines, unknown, and unsung. However, it is the combined efforts of these persistent, loyal workers that form the backbone of the business. In the kingdom, the apostles' names are remembered by everyone, but who talks about Epaphroditus, Tychicus, or Onesiphorus? But how much more difficult would the apostle’s task of preaching the gospel to every creature without the quiet, unselfish services of hundreds of seldom noticed people like Epaphroditus.
The soldier's life is not an easy one. He gives up a peaceful home life in a quiet neighborhood in exchange for unpleasant accommodations near the battle front. He trades good food and leisure time for uncertain fare and guard duty. He puts himself in harm's way enduring hardship, because a soldier must fight for another. He dies so that others might live. Epaphroditus risked his life to wait on Paul, leaving the comfort of his home in Philippi to hazard his life and health seeing to Paul's needs in prison.
A messenger typifies the true servant of the Savior. He is not the author of the message. Another gets the credit for the information it contains. He is not the recipient of the message. Someone else benefits from the contents of the missive. The messenger just carries it from one to the other, braving the trials along the path, fearing the displeasure of the sender if he fails, and risking the anger of the receiver who may despise the message. Epaphroditus cared so much for those who would receive the message that it troubled him to hear they were worried for his health. In his estimation, his own physical state was too unimportant to concern others (Phil 2:26).
As Epaphroditus ministered to Paul's needs on behalf of the Philippians, he did so at the expense of his own health (Phil. 2:30). He understood that ministering to another required sacrifice; it meant that the minister must place greater value on the needs of his charge than on his own interests. This attitude reflects the character of Jesus who ministered to the spiritual needs of all men. Humankind’s need for salvation was more important to Him than His own desire to remain in heaven with the Father. Man’s liberty was a greater matter to Him than His own freedom from suffering and humiliation. To Him, new life for the lost outweighed His own potential loss of life. Epaphroditus walked in the steps of the Savior. Whether one ministers by waiting at another's bedside or exhorts from a pulpit, one can profit by thinking less of what he is due and focusing more on what he can do.
Epaphroditus took no thought for himself. In so doing, he became a living example of the words of the Lord: "But whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: for even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:43, 45). Christians have been born anew, not to be waited on by others, but to wait upon others, not to be honored by men, but to give honor to God. "Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation" (Phil. 2:29).
Five Things that Determine the Future Faithfulness of Young People
By Chris Emerson
1. A church that soundly and strongly teaches scripture and the subjection of Christians to the word of God.
2. Each individual young person must understand and accept their own personal accountability and make their own personal commitment to the Lord. You are accountable for your own faith; you cannot blame your lack or loss of faith on others.
3. Each individual young person must cultivate friendships that are spiritually healthy with other godly young people, both companions in their youth and life companion in marriage. You are responsible for the friends you make; we tend to be the average of the five persons dearest to us.
4. Each member of the church must understand and accept their responsibility in influence the young people, in areas of sincerity and faithfulness, and in getting along with others peacefully. Often the impact of church members can influence young people more than family. If 49 are sincere and faithful, the 50th will be the one that will often influence them the most.
5. Each parent must accept their responsibility to lead their children by godly example and guide them with God-modeled discipline.
Test Your Knowledge of Bible Light
On what day did God create Light?
What celestial bodies did God create to give light?
On what day did He create the sun, moon, and stars?
What objects did God use to guide Israel to Canaan?
Who are the “sons of light” in the New Testament?