Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me. ~Philippians 2:30
In our Western world, we use some very colorful and descriptive phrases and idioms to describe a situation. For instance, when someone greatly exasperates us, we might say, “You’re killing me!” Sometimes, for a serious medical condition or life predicament that needs immediate attention, we might soberly describe it as “a matter of life and death.” Paul describes the service of a man named Epaphroditus as being “near unto death.” Epaphroditus pressed forward and kept going in spite of the fact he was near death. Let us examine the thought this morning of why our service for the Lord is a matter of life and death.
We see Epaphroditus and his SELECTION.
Paul describes him as a brother, a companion in labor, fellow soldier, and the messenger to the Philippians. He was a servant of God and, I believe, at one time, the lead pastor at the church at Philippi. He stands out as a fervent Christian who loved the Lord, loved his church, and loved to serve people. He was one not afraid to labor in the trenches with Paul, to stand with Paul on the front lines of spiritual battle, and to be a comforter and encourager behind the scenes. God saw this man’s faithfulness and called him to serve Him in the ministry. Never be afraid to step out in service. Never be afraid to do more for the Lord. Never back away from His calling to walk on higher ground.
We see Epaphroditus and his SENTIMENT.
Epaphroditus got a burden to go to Rome and minister to Paul. Paul was his close friend and most likely his mentor. On behalf of the church of Philippi, Epaphroditus stayed with Paul in prison and served him. He did not go to Rome for a vacation. He went there to supply whatever was lacking for Paul. He loved Paul and wanted to be sure Paul’s work for the Lord would continue without hindrance. He gave Paul more hours in the day and carried some of Paul’s load. When you love someone, you will go to extremes to help them and be a blessing.
We see Epaphroditus and his SACRIFICE.
This man was nigh unto death. He got very sick when he was at Rome. He almost died. However, death did not impede his selfless service. Notice again it says, “For the work of Christ he was nigh unto death.” He epitomized sacrificial service. He continued working even if it killed him! He continued ministering even though he was weak and fainting. This is the kind of service that is lacking among Christians today. Sacrificial service works when others sleep; it labors when others forsake you; it keeps going in spite of opposition; it finds solutions when the problems are overwhelming; it seeks to get the job done even if it is the last thing you do. Sacrificial service is service that knows it will be worth it all when it is done.
We see Epaphroditus and his STIMULUS.
We might scratch our heads and ask, “What drove Epaphroditus?” His name means “lovely.” He was a lovely Christian! When David lamented the death of his good friend Jonathan, he said that he was “lovely in death.” I think David meant that Jonathan died as a courageous man who did not waver in his faith and love for God. David meant that Jonathan gave his life for a good cause. Epaphroditus was stimulated to go to the extreme in service because his love for God, his friends, and the cause of Christ gave him inspiration and joy.
Having a good attitude and serving God are a matter of life and death. Being faithful in what God has called us to is a matter of life and death. Don’t just give your best to God: go to the very extreme for God!
Have a lovely God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Exodus 19-21