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.
"Epaphroditus" also possessed many qualities that every child of God should have. Paul’s personal opinion of Epaphroditus was, he was a "fellow soldier", a "co-laborer", and a "brother in the faith". Paul had no problem sending Epaphroditus to the Philippian church because of his "proven" dedication to Paul as a helper in the ministry and to Jesus Christ. Epaphroditus would go to work in the mission field whether he was sick or well. If you truly labor for the Lord and show brotherly love toward your fellow man and co-laborers in the faith, some one from among the brethren and the people in the community will pay true homage to you because of your character and work. Not only that but if there are inquiries concerening using the ministry God has in you, you will be recommended by those who you truly have helped
In chapter 2 of Philippians, there are 3 things that can be highlighted in the leadership qualities of Epaphroditus?
A. He was a balanced Christian.
Paul based what he saw in him on the quality of his work in the faith and character tendencies in his demeanor and conduct, it was apparent to Paul that Epaphroditus had a balanced life as a Christian. His life mirrored similar to the life of a Good Samaritan. (Luke 10) He had a genuine concern for the Philippian church and literally sacrificed his health and personal financial resources for the cause of Christ. Luke 10:35- 42 epitomizes the attitude Epaphroditus had concerning his stewardship. He was willing to go the extra mile. He showed this in 2 distinct ways:
First, he showed a genuine concern for the people who were experiencing harassing trials in the Philippian Church.
Second, he would act as a messenger for Paul to keep him informed of their welfare and then would inform them of his welfare behind prison bars.
Third, he sacrificed personal finances and was instrumental in getting financial aid to the apostle.
Fourth, as he did his job as assistant Pastor and ambassador, he would follow up on both the congregation in Philippi and with Paul to make sure everything was taken care of and poised himself to render further help if needed.
B. Though possessing balance in Christian stewardship, Epaphroditus was a burdened Christian as well.
His health became a burden and apparently healthwise he was in jeopardy. The bible says he suffered from an illness that nearly became fatal, yet, trying to serve Christ to the fullest, he refused to concern himself about his illness to rest, heal, and discontinue choosing to keep on working because he valued his Christian service as Paul’s assistant and ambassador. At some point, his illness became servere enough that Paul waited for him and gave him enough time to recover before sending him back to the Philippian church with his letter to the church. God in his infinite mercy spared his life for greater service. The burden of the Christian servant is to serve the Lord with our whole heart. This means we are to totally sellout our whole being to render whatever service God has for us. We must trust the Lord with all of our heart and depend on him to make ways for us to complete the mission at hand.
C. Epaphroditus was a blessed Christian.
He was blessed, because God showed his mercy upon him by spearing his life and allowing him to be a living testimony to Paul, who about this time was beginning to feel lonely behind prison bars. He was blessed because his life and stewardship in the Philippian church was a value to the church in his role as liaison and minister. The people were to receive him with respect and with joy. (Philippians 2:25- 30) When a child of God walks in a mature fashion for Christ beyond the adversities of their life, it is truly a living testimony of what God can and will do in the life of a believer. Those who were won to Christianity by the Word and the Word in action in the life of a minister or believer will always have gladness and joy on their part whenever you are in their midst. Jesus sacrificed his life so we all can have hope and a right to the tree of life. We must live a dedicated life of sacrifice to the ministry and giving hope to those who are lost and destitute, needing salvation for their souls. We are blessed to be a blessing to others through Jesus Christ.
How can we benefit from Epaphroditus's example of service?
A. In verses 25- 32, Epaphroditus submitted himself as a Christian brother, a companion in labor, and a fellow soldier in Jesus Christ.
As a brother, he greatly encouraged Paul. Paul, in response had a brotherely affection toward him as he would any brother in Christ. As a companion and co-laborer, Epaphroditus became a “go between” or "courier" in the Philippian church. Because Paul was in prison, he acted as a courier, carrying the letters written by Paul back to the fellowship as well as informed and discuss matters with Paul that affected the church in Paul’s absence. As a fellow soldier, Epaphroditus was dedicated, determined and dependable. He submitted himself to the work and the dangers of Christian service.
B. He carried out the desires of Paul for the Philippian church.
Epaphroditus had such a love for the people that he took it upon himself to see that they were alright despite his own poor health and even at the point of death at one time.(verses 26 and 27) There may come a time that we must render service even when we are not in the best of health. There are also times when we must take care of our bodies and rest, replenish and recover before continuing the work. Whatever God needs us to do for the work of the ministry, we ought to be willing to do just that! Servants of Christ must possess the same kind of love, (agape) going the extra mile to meet the needs of the church and his people.
C. He was faithful unto death.
His example teaches all of us who are on the mission field that we have to be totally submissive to God though we will face danger on every hand and to work even in the midst of adverse circumstances, including health problems. The testimony we may leave to the other believers could hinge on our behavior and conduct in adverse circumstances. We may not be 100% healthy when we witness or minister, but we must always give 100% of ourselves to win others to Christ and encourage those who are going through times of suffering because they have committed their lives to Jesus Christ. Sometimes, it is in the way we deal with personal suffering that others are won to Jesus Christ.