19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s[c] proven worth, how as a son[d] with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.
25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honour such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
Timothy and Epaphroditus are living examples of the humility and service about which Paul has written. They have sacrificed themselves for the service of others. Timothy is much younger than Paul and he has a paternal affection for him. Timothy has taken care of his master in ways that Paul can not do without. Also, it is possible that Timothy is not prepared yet to be an elder or leader in a church setting. Paul might need a little while longer with him..
Epaphroditus is the type of servant who volunteers for difficult tasks. In fact he has pushed himself to the point of death. Now, however he is homesick, as does happen in Christian service. Paul loves Epaphroditus, but he realises that having him return to Philippi is for the best.
Usually Paul writes these kinds of details at the end of his letters. We get an insight into the personal comings and goings of the early apostles. However, here, I believe, the details are moved up because of the example of service and sacrifice.
I have had people come and go in my life who I have had this kind of relationship with. Ryan Jenkins takes great effort to come from Chicago each week and spend time with my family and myself. Most of the students and former students that I meet with I focus on investing in them. However, Ryan has sought more and more to contribute to the family. In fact, today I am having one of my ‘worst teacher in the world’ days. I will ask him to pray for me and see what happens.
Ken Gates is another with whom I have worked more closely recently. I respect his mind and often feel positively challenged by him. Nancy Kane challenges me in much the same way, but she leaves me feeling emotionally supported.
It is important, first of all, to be the one others can depend upon ion times of difficulty. One has to become generous and loyal. God in his grace may then use you to be a living example of his grace in the life of another. Secondly, it is good to be thankful for those whom God supplies to support us in our walk with God. Talk to others about how God uses them in your life. Be a support to others and let them support you.
Father, I hate the emotional triggering that reminds me that I have thoughts that are ungodly, and damaged. I thank you that there are people in my life who can help when I have ‘worst teacher in the world’ days. Please support me through them on days like today.
- Who does Paul talk about in this passage?
- Why move these examples up into the body of the letter?
- Why does Paul treat each of them differently?
- To whom are you being supportive and useful? How?
- Who sacrifices themselves to talk with and support you?