19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. 20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father. 23 Therefore I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me; 24 and I trust in the Lord that I myself also will be coming shortly. 25 But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need; 26 because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I have sent him all the more eagerly so that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you. 29 Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard; 30 because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me.
Paul here is explaining the order in which the church should expect things to happen. Epaphroditus is the one the church of Philippi sent to Paul with a gift. He had been detained by illness due to overwork and is now well. He is the one returning to Philippi with the letter we are now reading. Paul intends to wait until his verdict is read to send news via Timothy to the church in hopes that Paul will soon be following him to visit Philippi.
Verses 20 and 21 made me stop and think. I’m not quite sure how many followers Paul had at the time but it’s quite distinctive that only 1 proved himself to be a true Christ follower. How many of us are true followers of Christ? Think of it on a moment-by-moment basis. How much do we do for Christ and not ourselves? How devoted are we? Do we only do it when it is convenient? Do we only do it when we think we should or have to? He only relates to Timothy’s work by saying that the church already knows how devoted he is.
Then we get a look at Epaphroditus. Paul explains that the church should rever adn respect him for his hard work and dedication to the Lord. He worked himself to the point of death for Christ and the Kingdom. How hard do we work for Christ? Do we make ourselves sick or do we stop before we over exert ourselves?
The two questions for today from this passage are:
Why do we do what we do and how hard do we do what we do? do we do things in order to serve God and His will and further His Kingdom or do we use that as a pretense and actually do it for ourselves? Do we do it to feel good about ourselves? Are we stuck in a pattern of giving and sacrificing because we get enjoyment out of it or do we truly only do it with Christ in mind?
do we work hard enough just to get by, just to meet the minimum requirements? Do we only work hard enough so as to meet the expectations of others? Or do we work as hard as we can? Being humans we put many limitations on ourselves: lack of motivation, lack of time, lack of energy, lack of knowledge, lack of resources…the list goes on. I know I’m very good at making excuses, I just did it this morning over something completely ridiculous. Why are we so resistant to put forth effort? Why do we hesitate to go the extra step? Because it inconveniences us and our selfish ways. Remember, Christ wants us to sacrifice for others. He doesn’t want us to give only part of us, part of our time, part of our energy, but ALL of ourselves. He gave His all for us, why can’t we at least try to give our all for Him? Afterall, He deserves it.
Where in your life today can you give more?