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Unusual Courage

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.
–Philippians 2:25

In Philippians 2:25-30, Paul singled out a man who is worthy of praise–Epaphroditus. Epaphroditus is an example of unusual courage.

Epaphroditus was the leader of the church at Philippi who volunteered to take the love offering to Paul, who was under house arrest eight hundred miles away in Rome. It was a risky venture to travel that far, but Epaphroditus signed up for duty. In verses 25-26, Paul said, “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; because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.” Apparently, while Epaphroditus was in Rome, he became seriously ill. Paul knew that when word reached the church in Philippi that their leader was sick, they would become distressed. So Paul said in verses 27-28, “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. 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.”

This is an amazing insight into the apostle Paul. If you were in prison, what would you be thinking about? I would be thinking, “How can I get out of here?” Not Paul. He was concerned about the Philippians. He said, “Even though Epaphroditus was helping me, I’m sending him back because I’m concerned that you’re going to be worried about him.”

Paul also knew that if Epaphroditus came back early, some people would criticize him. So Paul said in verses 29-30, “Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard; because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me.” The phrase “risking his life” is the translation of a Greek word meaning “the riskers.” People who risked their lives for the sake of the gospel were known as “the riskers.” Epaphroditus was a risker. Priscilla and Aquila “risked their own necks” for the gospel (Romans 16:4). John talked about people who “did not love their life even when faced with death” (Revelation 12:11). They were the riskers. God honors people who are willing to risk it all for the service of Christ. That’s the kind of person God uses.

God may not be calling you to give up your physical life, at least not yet. But what risk is God asking you to make out of obedience to Him? Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Heroes” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.

Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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