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Bible boy_reading_bibleThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Philippians 2:25-30

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 honor such men, 30 for he nearly died[a] for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.

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Last week’s post discussed Paul’s affection and esteem for Timothy.

In today’s reading, Paul introduces us to Epaphroditus.

John MacArthur says that Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus are three excellent examples of sacrificial living (emphases mine):

There are a lot of people at the table and there are a lot of people who sing the hymn.  Few fast and few pray, few watch.  The poet went on to say, “Many will confess His wisdom, few embrace His shame.  Many while He smiles upon them loud His praise proclaim.  Then if for a while He tests them, they desert His name.  But the souls who love supremely let woe come or bliss, these will count their dearest heart’s blood, not their own but His.  Savior, Thou who thus hast loved me, give me love like this.”  The call for a sacrificial life.

It’s hard for us in this society to get in touch with the model of sacrificial living, and so we have been looking at Paul and Timothy and now maybe the richest of all of them, Epaphroditus.  And I say that because he is much like us When you look at the model of Timothy, as we did last week, you say, “But he is a gifted man, eminently gifted to preach and teach.  He is unique spiritually.  He was called by God, set apart, spiritual leader, trained under the Apostle Paul, a great leader, a great teacher, a gifted man.  I can’t very well identify with that” …

He is not a statesman.  He is not an Apostle.  We have no indication that he was even an elder in the church at Philippi.  There is nothing said to lead us to believe that his ministry was anything dramatic or dynamic, unforgettable, earthshaking.  He, in a sense, is the hero of the common man And maybe in that sense his level of sacrificial service becomes much more instructive for us because he provides for us a pattern of life at the level with which most of must face it.

He exemplifies the spirit of sacrifice for the sake of Christ that has no public kudos.  He had nothing to gain, not preeminence as an Apostle, not as a great teacher, preacher, proclaimer of truth, not popularity like Timothy as one who had been trained under Paul and had had significance ministry throughout his life.  There’s nothing really incomparable about Epaphroditus as there is about Paul There’s nothing really preeminent about his giftedness as there is in the case of Timothy who was so uniquely gifted of God, a remarkable man in every way This is just one of us And in that sense his model and his example becomes all the more direct in its application We could say there are few Pauls, there are some Timothys, there are many Epaphroditus.  This is the people’s model.

Looking back at the earlier verses in Philippians 2, we recall that Paul tells us to work out our salvation with fear, trembling and without complaint. Paul spoke of the Philippians’ sacrifice in their Christian journey, saying that he was but the drink offering poured on that sacrifice. He then wrote about Timothy, who was like a son to him.

MacArthur summarises the chapter this way:

Paul is really giving us a strong call to Christian commitment He is saying, “Live out your salvation in humility and without complaint.”

Those are two good balancing things If things go well for you, don’t be proudIf things go difficult for you, don’t complain.  Live out your salvation in humility and without complaint.  And then in order to help us see more clearly how that works, he gave us three models He was a model of selfless, humble, living out of salvation without complaint, so was Timothy.  And here we come to Epaphroditus, the third model.

Just for sake of distinction we called Paul the sacrificial rejoicer, or the humble rejoicer We called Timothy the single-minded sympathizer And now as we come to verse 25 through 30 we see Epaphroditus, let’s call him the loving gambler…the loving gambler.  And I’ll explain that as we go.

MacArthur gives us a brief biography of Epaphroditus, a devoted, holy man from the church in Philippi:

We really don’t know anything except by implication in this passage and we’ll try to construct the best we can somewhat of a profile of this very unique man.

Remember now, Paul is a prisoner, a two-year incarceration in a private house by the Roman government.  The Romans have chained him to one of their soldiers, keeping him a prisoner in his own house.  During the time he is imprisoned by Rome he still has some freedom for ministry The Philippian church who loved him very deeply, the church which he founded, as recorded in Acts 16, when they became aware of his situation were greatly troubled by it and decided they wanted to help him Realizing he could no longer work to earn his living, support himself in his ministry, they wanted to send him some money So the Philippians collected sacrificially from their people a gift of love and they sent it to Paul and it was taken by this man Epaphroditus.

Epaphroditus took the money to Paul, but there was more involved than that.  The Philippian church instructed him not only to deliver the money but to stay and to become the servant of Paul in the matter of all of his personal needs.  So Epaphroditus is sent with the money as the chosen delegate of the church and also he is to stay as the servant of Paul, serving all of his personal needs.

Now that alone would tell us something about Epaphroditus.  Number one, the Philippian church would never have sent a man to work in close proximity with the Apostle Paul unless he was most eminently representative of the godliness of that congregation We can assume that they wouldn’t want to put anybody suspect very close to the Apostle Paul who may well have been the most discerning human being that ever lived and who could see through anyone.  And so we can be fairly certain that Epaphroditus was a man of genuine spiritual virtue, a man of depth in terms of his love and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Secondly, we could also ascertain that he was a man with a heart of a servant For him to go and to simply meet all the needs of the Apostle Paul would indicate to me that he saw himself in the role of coming alongside to serve.  There’s no indication that he was a significant preacher/teacher in the church, although he may well have been able to do that.  It could well be ascertained that he was more likely a deacon than an elder and that his role was more the role of serving than the role of leading.  But nonetheless we can for sure know that he must have had a servant’s heart.  The Philippian congregation having chosen him as their ambassador, as it were, to Paul would never have chosen a man who wouldn’t literally give his life away in service to someone else because to do so would betray both their love for Paul and Paul’s trust in their judgment.

Thirdly, we can ascertain that not only was he a humble serving godly man, but he was a man of great courage because he knew exactly what he was walking into There was no question in his mind how the Roman government felt about Paul.  That was obvious for everyone to see.  It was imminently possible that Paul could lose his life because he was, after all, a prisoner and there was consideration about whether or not he should continue to live since he was bringing the heresy of Christianity into the Roman world.  And if in fact Paul’s life was taken away, it would probably be a matter of course for them to at least consider taking the lives of those who served alongside of him So he well knew the risk involved.

So here is a man then who is a godly man or he wouldn’t have been chosen, who is a servant who is chosen to do that which most fits his gifts, and who has the courage to step into a hostile environment where the very one he serves is hated, rejected.  And he is willing to do that.

The question arises as to whether Epaphroditus and Epaphras are the same man.

Matthew Henry’s commentary states that they were one in the same:

He seems to be the same who is called Epaphras, Col 4 12.

However, MacArthur says they were two different men:

There is a short form of the name Epaphroditus in the Greek and that is Epaphras And there is an Epaphras mentioned in Colossians 1:7 but there is no reason to identify the two as one We think they’re two different people.

Those reading this thinking that Epaphroditus sounds like Aphrodite would be correct:

The name Epaphroditus was a common name In fact, the word Epaphroditus was a common word.  It was a…it was a common noun, if you will…not only a proper noun.  Not just a name but a common term and I’ll tell you why. The name is drawn from the name of a Greek god.  Have you heard the name Aphrodite?  Have you heard that name?  Aphrodite was the goddess of love In Rome her name was Venus, goddess of love.  Among the Greeks it was Aphrodite.  She was the goddess of love and beauty.  And this man is named, as it were, for Aphrodite.  Epaphroditus is simply a term that means “favorite of Aphrodite, favorite of Aphrodite.”

This tells us that he came out of a pagan environment …

So the man came out of a pagan background, converted to Christ.  We don’t know where.  We don’t know in what way.  It very possibly could have happened when Paul founded the church at Philippi.  He could have been one of the early converts and been there from the very beginning, but we do not know that.

He has become, however, a key Christian in the church, a sacrificial man who has left his home, his employment, his ministry, his church, his friends, his wife, his children to go and serve the Apostle Paul.  A very sacrificial man.

Paul begins by saying that he will send Epaphroditus to them and goes on to name the many roles the man fulfils for the Apostle: a (spiritual) brother, a fellow worker, a fellow soldier, the Philippians’  messenger and minister to his need (verse 25).

From that, we can appreciate that Epaphroditus was a very important man in Paul’s life at that time.

MacArthur explains what these roles meant in the ancient world and in Paul’s ministry:

First of all, he is called “My brother.”  The key is the word “my.”  Paul is viewing him in a very personal way.  He is my brother.  What does he mean by that?  Well he means brother in the sense of spiritual birth.  They both have the common source of life, God the Father having given them life in Christ through the Spirit.  They are brothers in Christ and so they share the common eternal life.  But there’s more to it than that.  It is not only brother of common life, but it is brother of common love And the term adelphos also carries the idea of camaraderie, friendship, affection, feelings.  And so Paul is saying, first of all, I want you to know that Epaphroditus not only shares with me common life, but he is a brother loved.  I have affection for him, he is my comrade, he is my friend.  That’s the personal titling.  Now what that celebrates is Paul’s own inter-personal relationship with him…how he related to Paul.  Okay?

The second title is how he related to the ministry, and he calls him “my fellow worker,” or fellow worker.  This word is used thirteen times in the New Testament, twelve times out of the thirteen by Paul and he uses it of people who worked alongside him in the ministry You can look up its uses in Romans 16, 1 Corinthians 1, there’s one in Philippians 4:3, another one in 1 Thessalonians 3:2 Paul titles people “fellow worker,” who came alongside and worked with him in the extension of the gospel.  So he says he not only in relation to my person is brother, but in relation to my task is fellow worker, coworker.  The emphasis here is not on common life, but on common effort He is commendable not only for his relational skills, he is commendable also for his laboring effort, for his diligence Not just brothers in life and love, but workers together for Christ.

Thirdly, he says “my fellow soldier.”  This is to say not particularly looking at his relation to Paul or his relation to the task at hand, but that he is commendable in relationship to the enemies which fight against the ministry.  The title “fellow soldier,” by the way, is a very, very honorable title I did a little research into that Greek word which is also used in the second verse of Philemon and I found that outside of biblical record that word was used on some special occasion to honor a soldier, usually a common soldier was honored with that title.  And the goal was to make the soldier equal to the commander-in-chief In one case to make a warrior equal to a king.  To say you are a fellow soldier, in the very heart of that Greek word is the word stratios(?) from which we get strategist, was to say that you ranked with those who are the strategic people in the forces, the strategists, the great leaders…a great term of honor And Paul is pulling Epaphroditus up, my fellow strategist, my fellow commander-in-chief, my fellow…as it were…leader in the matter of spiritual warfare.

Now all three of these terms demonstrate the gracious humility of the heart of Paul.  Paul doesn’t look down on Epaphroditus at all.  He looks right eyeball to eyeball with him.  In his wonderful humility, he could lift anyone to his own level…my brother, my fellow worker, my fellow commander-in-chief.  This is the humble heart of the great Apostle.  He doesn’t need to brag on himself.  He doesn’t need to elevate himself.  That is contrary to the moving of the Spirit in his heart and contrary to what he knows to be true in terms of the desire of God for his life.

That last term “fellow soldier” is very important because it indicates that there was conflict in the ministry of Epaphroditus It indicates that while Paul was battling, so was he.  And anyone who came alongside him in that environment certainly was battling.  Epaphroditus was probably battling not only men but demons, not only the earthly enemy but the heavenly enemy, not only the fleshly but the spiritual dimension.

So here is this unique man.  Already we know he was a godly man.  Already we know he was a servant at heart.  Already we know we was a greatly courageous man.  Now we find out he had relational skills and had become really a very loved brother of Paul.  He had tremendous work skills so that he was seen to be one who worked right alongside Paul at his own level.  And thirdly, he was a great soldier who did not flee in the face of great, great animosity and opposition.  That’s what we know about him.

There are two more titles that he’s given that tell us a little more about him and they are in relation to the Philippian church And here he introduces the word “your.”  From my viewpoint these three things describe him.  From your viewpoint, these two describe him.  He is your messenger and minister to my need.  This, very simple.  Your messenger is the word apostolos from which we get the word apostle, which isn’t a translation but literally a transliterationHe was your apostle

MacArthur then explains the difference between Apostle and apostle:

Now note, there are some Apostles, only a few, eleven plus Matthias, plus Paul, only those men were Apostles selected by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and sent.  He does not say of Epaphroditus he is the Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, he says he is your apostle.  And here’s the simple distinction.  The Apostles with the upper case letters were those sent by Christ The apostles with the lower case letters were those sent by the church. He is not an Apostle of Christ, he is an apostle of the church.  He is not that uniquely called and dispatched and foundational Apostle chosen by Christ, he is that apostle sent from the church chosen by the church.  And that’s a very important distinction to make.

The first were Apostles of Christ.  The second category apostles of the church.  And he is such, sent by the church, not by Christ personally Himself.

MacArthur explains the Greek meaning of ‘minister’:

Now secondly he says, not only is he a messenger, he’s your messenger, and what was he a messenger of?  He brought him money.  That was the issue.  He sent whatever they sent, and I’m sure it wasn’t just money, there must have been a message with it, a message of love and the promise of prayers and all of that.  But secondly he says he is minister to my need He is your minister to my need.  You have sent him.

Now the word for minister here needs our attention for a moment.  I don’t want to get too technical but I need to give you these foundational ideas.  The word is leitourgon from which we get liturgy And we’ve been noting that word in other studies and that word has to do with sacred priestly religious service from which we get the word liturgy today which is used in relationship to certain kinds of worship.

Now, he comes then as the liturgical priest, if you will.  He comes as the ceremonial servant, to minister to Paul It’s a spiritual term, it’s a religious term, it’s a sacred term There were in the early years around the time of Paul in the church Greek city states And some of you have studied about them in your world history.  Greek city states were very proud, they had their own armies, they even went to war with other city states.  People became very enamored with and very patriotic regarding their own city states.  And very often there were men who were so passionately committed to their own city state that at their own expense they would use their money and their time and their efforts to accomplish great civic duties and provide great civic benefits They were seen as the benefactors of the public And they became known as the leitourgoi, those who at great personal expense did what they did sacrificially to benefit the popul[ace] And that then is a fitting term for this man who at great personal expense, leaving his home and his family and his friends and his livelihood and whatever else, literally came and put his life on the line to benefit the Apostle Paul.  So he is the servant of the Philippian church come to bring a message and he did sacred service on their behalf in the life of Paul as he was instructed to do.

The money which he brought in chapter 4 verse 18 is called an acceptable sacrifice And so Paul picks up with that terminology.  He was a priest doing sacred service and offering a sacrifice of money for the needs of Paul.

So he’s quite a man, quite a remarkable man…unselfish, humble, sympathetic, compassionate, all of those things.  He’s a servant, he’s courageous, he’s godly.  He built a strong bond with Paul.  He worked fairly alongside of him and did his share and he was a great soldier fighting the enemy.

Paul says that Epaphroditus has been longing for the Philippians and has been in distress ever since he found out the Philippians heard that he was ill, or ‘sick’ in some translations (verse 26).

That indicates that the Philippians were very fond of Epaphroditus and highly concerned for his recovery. Just as important, Paul knows that, too.

Henry says:

The Philippians were exceedingly sorry to hear of his sickness. They were full of heaviness, as well as he, upon the tidings of it: for he was one, it seems, for whom they had a particular respect and affection, and thought fit to choose out to send to the apostle.

MacArthur gives us a fuller definition of ‘distressed’ in that context:

That word, by the way, describes the confused restless half-distracted state produced by physical derangement or mental distress It can be the product of grief or shame or disappointment or sorrow, any of those things.  But it’s that confused chaotic restlessness that comes in a time of turmoil And so he says he’s restless and he’s in turmoil and he’s distressed.

By the way, it’s used…the same word is used in Matthew 26 when Jesus in verse 38 says in the Garden, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death.”  It’s a very heavy, heavy distress.  One translator calls it, “Full of heaviness.”  One writer, Sweet(?) says, “It is the distress that follows a great traumatic shock.”  He is really upset.

Paul says that Epaphroditus was near death, but God showed him — and Paul — mercy through his recovery, which Paul says was an added mercy because his friend’s death would have produced sorrow upon sorrow (verse 27).

Henry takes the word ‘ill’ or ‘sick’ literally and explains why Paul could not cure his friend:

Sickness is a calamity common to men, to good men and ministers. But why did not the apostle heal him, who was endued with a power of curing diseases, as well as raising the dead? Acts 20 10. Probably because that was intended as a sign to others, and to confirm the truth of the gospel, and therefore needed not be exercised one towards another. These signs shall follow those who believe, they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover, Mark 16 17, 18. And perhaps they had not that power at all times, and at their own discretion, but only when some great end was to be served by it, and when God saw fit. It was proper to Christ, who had the Spirit above measure.

However, MacArthur looks at ‘ill’ or ‘sick’ as James used the word in his Epistle and says that it does not refer to physical illness but indicates a spiritual battle:

If you have any question about James 5, the end of that wonderful section on “let the elders pray for the sick,” we showed you that the word “sick” there does not primarily mean sick It talks about being weak, it talks about being feeble.  And it is the same term here, astheneo, and I don’t believe it has anything to do with physical illness, I don’t believe there’s any disease you get in the work of Christ.  I don’t think that’s what he’s saying at all.  What he is saying about this man is that he came close to death for the work of Christ.  What kind of death do you come close to doing the work of Christ in a hostile environment?  I’ll tell you what kind of death, the death of a martyr.  I don’t think this has a thing to do with physical illness This has to do with martyrdom This man was engaged in spiritual conflict.  This man was engaged in a battle with the forces of hell and the ungodly of the society, that is the battle that he was engaged in.

MacArthur gives us the meaning for ‘sorrow upon sorrow’ in Greek:

Do you know what would have happened to Paul if Epaphroditus had died?  He would have had sorrow upon sorrow.  You know what that means in the Greek?  It literally means wave after wave of grief…this man that endeared himself to Paul.  As I say, he may have known him a number of years, we don’t know.  But somehow he was deep into the heart of Paul, very deep because when he gets distressed about the Philippians, Paul can’t handle his distress And so he’s got to send him home so he can get undistressed because Paul is distressed about Epaphroditus’ distress And the only thing worse than that would be Epaphroditus death which would bring wave upon wave of sorrow to Paul See, here’s a man who deeply loved, a church who deeply loved, a servant of that church that deeply loved…such profound things, so elusive to us who have put objects in front of people.

So God makes a sovereign decision, spares the life of Epaphroditus in the midst of this brush with death.  And in so doing gives mercy to Epaphroditus and mercy to Paul who would be literally overwrought with sorrow if that man had lost his life And by the way, that sorrow upon sorrow is very strong language, very strong…wave upon wave of grief…grief upon grief rolling in.  So God delivered Epaphroditus and God delivered Paul.

As a servant of Christ, Paul was ready to face death.  I think as a servant of Christ I think Paul was ready to accept the death of his friend Epaphroditus But he wouldn’t have liked it personally because he loved the man.  So he was happy to forego the pain of losing Epaphroditus to death.

Paul says that he is all the more eager to send Epaphroditus home to the Philippians because his friend’s distress is making him anxious (verse 28).

MacArthur explains Paul’s selfless love for Epaphroditus and the Philippians:

Paul is not only concerned about Epaphroditus, but he’s concerned about the Philippians being concerned about Epaphroditus who is concerned about them.

Even though he needs him, fellow worker, even though he loves to have him alongside, fellow soldier, and even though he knows they sent him as messenger and minister to his need, and he proves himself so valuable that it was mercy that spared his life for Paul would have had sorrow on sorrow losing him, that’s how valuable he was.  Paul says in spite of all he means to me, I’m sending him to you.  Why?  Because I’m more concerned about your joy than mine.  Magnanimous man.

Paul tells the Philippians to receive Epaphroditus in the Lord with all joy and to honour men like him (verse 29).

MacArthur elaborates on the sentiment that Paul expresses in that verse:

Receive him in the Lord…receive him really as if he were the Lord.  Matthew chapter 18 says that we are to receive one another as little children.  And it says there whoever receives one of these little ones, receives Me.  The word “receive” means to welcome, to open your arms and embrace, to take in.  So he’s saying don’t accept the fact that he’s home as some indication of failure.  I’m telling you, receive him as if you were receiving the Lord.  Then receive him with joy, rejoice that he’s back and that he’s well and that he’s healthy And then hold men like him in high regard Don’t just be happy, be respectful.  Don’t reluctantly say…Well, it’s obvious he failed.  No, hold him in high regard, hold him as highly prized, would be another way to translate it Hold him as a precious man…even best, an honored man…an honored man.

Paul closes by saying that Epaphroditus was risking his life for the work of Christ, to complete through his dedication to Paul the work that the Philippians could not do (verse 30). That was not a slight on the Philippians, rather the recognition that Epaphroditus’s character and holiness was so exemplary.

MacArthur gives us an insight into ‘risking his life’:

Risking his life.  He uses a very interesting verb, that verb is the verb that is connected to the noun periballa(?) which means dice, and the verb form means to roll the dice It means to gamble, to play the gambler, to expose oneself to danger might be the best way…he exposed himself to danger.  That’s what he did.  Not necessarily to disease.  He was so loyal and so faithful and so sacrificial, so humble, so uncomplaining he just put his life on the line in an effort to do what the Philippians wanted done in behalf of Paul That’s why I call him the loving gambler, he loved Paul, he loved Christ, he loved the cause of Christ, he loved the Philippians so much he loved not himself.  He just gave his life away …

Now let me take you back to the name Epaphroditus Remember I told you that it meant to be the favorite of Aphrodite A little twist on that that must have been in the mind of Paul, he’s sometimes fairly subtle.  Aphrodite was the goddess of luck, he was the…she was the goddess of luck as well as beauty And when the Greeks rolled the dice in their games, their gambling games, the common word they used was…they would roll the dice and say “Epaphroditus.”  In other words, they wanted favor from Aphrodite So Paul is doing a little play on the name of Epaphroditus He was a favorite of Aphrodite by name and he gambled with his life He risked his life …

MacArthur says that, in the third century, a group of Christians took Epaphroditus as their model as they tended the sick:

That word paraballa(?) came to have some interesting usages.  In the days of the early church after the New Testament era, there was an association of men and women who got together and took the name “The Parabalani(?)” which meant “The Gamblers.”  They took as their hero Epaphroditus who gambled with his life And it was their aim and their mission to visit the prisoners, to visit the sick, especially those with infectious, dangerous, communicable diseases It was their mission to unhesitatingly, unflinchingly and boldly proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ in every environment without any hesitation.  And they called themselves, “The Parabalani, The Gamblers.”

It is also interesting to note that in A.D. 252 the city of Carthage had a terrible plague and the heathen were so frightened of the germs that were in the bodies of the dead that they literally bagged them somehow and hurled them out of the city, not wanting to touch them for burial.  Cyprian the Christian bishop gathered the congregation of the believing church together and the church members took their bodies and in a gracious act of human kindness buried the dead bodies of the plague-stricken people And according to the historians as well, they nursed even the sick people, coming close enough to them to touch them in that plague-infested city, risking their lives to save some in the city and God used them as a tremendous potential, as a tremendous force really to reach people for Christ because of their love.

Whether you’re talking about The Parabalani who gambled with their lives in an infectious disease environment, or whether you’re talking about Epaphroditus their hero who gambled with his life by going at a hostile culture with all he had in the service of Jesus Christ, that kind of self-sacrificing example is marvelous.

MacArthur concludes:

You know, we really don’t like risk, do we?  First thing we get saved, that eliminates eternal risk.  Heaven for sure, no risk.  Then we back into life and we’ve got to eliminate all the risk in life.  No risk, insulated, isolated, comfortable, got all the money we need, got the burglar alarm working, got the fence, got the gate, got our life closed in, no risk…giving away absolutely nothing.  That’s why I say I’ve always been enamored with sacrificial people and every time I look for them I have to outside our culture or outside our period of history We have so few and the Lord’s convicted my own heart and I trust yours as well to think about how to be an Epaphroditus and give myself away for a cause other than my own fulfillment.

I hate that stuff about self-fulfillment I think I hate it as much as anything because it’s counterproductive to everything that God ever called you to do…which is to give your life away for the cause of Christ and for the service of others in humble sacrifice.

Henry’s conclusion also struck a chord:

What is given us in answer to prayer should be received with great thankfulness and joy.

Along with self-sacrifice, joyful gratitude to God is something else missing from our day and age.

It is time to recapture both in our Christian journey.

Next time – Philippians 3:1-4a

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