Nigh Unto Death
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
Have you ever made the statement, “This almost killed me”? We sometimes use this cliché to describe something that we participated in that required such effort that we felt completely exhausted and spent when the exercise was over. Someone who runs a very grueling and long marathon might say at the conclusion, “This almost killed me.” Someone who undergoes a major surgery might say after they regained their strength, “This surgery almost killed me.” This morning, we want to examine the powerful example of a Christian who went to such an extreme of service for the Lord and Paul that it almost killed him.
We see a responsible servant.
Epaphroditus was a member of the church at Philippi. It is likely from Paul's description that he may have also been the pastor of the church. Paul spoke of this man as a brother, fellow soldier, companion in labor, and messenger to the believers at Philippi. He was a man who was well loved and who was known as a servant of the Lord. He was someone who could be trusted on a special mission and in the conveying of a message. He pictures for us someone who can be relied upon in getting something done.
We see a risky sacrifice.
Epaphroditus went to Rome to help minister to Paul. He knew that Paul needed a friend while he awaited a hearing regarding his situation. Epaphroditus ministered to the wants of the Apostle Paul. However, he may have gotten very ill, even to the place where it looked like he had taken a turn for the worse. Paul said, “He was nigh unto death.” He was close to dying. Even though his own health was jeopardized, Epaphroditus sacrificed himself to take care of Paul. True sacrifice costs something. True sacrifice involves substantial risk. Something valuable is given up. He risked his own life, even to death, to care for Paul. The father of John Stam said, “the only thing we know about sacrifice is how to spell the word.” Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” We need a spirit of sacrifice like that of Epaphroditus.
We see a reputable sending.
During his time of illness, Epaphroditus did not once think about himself. He was concerned and burdened about the difficulties going on in Philippi. His thoughts turned to his fellow church members. So, Paul sent him back to give them a report and to fellowship with them. He wanted to make sure that the church would receive him back in gladness and uphold him in the same status as they upheld Paul. This was like a letter of recommendation. Paul was telling them how good the church had it with a servant of the Lord who thought nothing of himself while he was sick but was concerned about them.
We see a recommended strategy.
Paul spoke of Epaphroditus in such a way to encourage the believers at Philippi to get past their selfish attitudes and to have a spirit of sacrifice for one another. The surest way to overcome strife and relationship struggles is to be willing to do service for others regardless if they do anything in return for us. In order for our churches to model the Lord Jesus in sacrifice, we need to have an attitude of serving even when we might feel like we are near unto death.
How is your sacrifice? Are you willing to go to any extreme for someone else, even if you feel like it almost kills you? Ask the Lord to give you a heart ready to sacrifice for others.
Have a sacrificial God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Psalms 26-30