Putting your life on the line …

Vol. 4, No. 4

But 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 and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick to the point of death . . . –Philippians 2:25-27

He put his life on the line and nearly died doing it. Such is the heart of one who ministers to the church with all that he is.

Epaphroditus is a BFF of Paul; staking everything on the ministry and for others. He was not personally concerned with himself. His courage was somewhat reckless, betting his own life to serve his BFF, Paul. Paul was imprisoned in the dungeons of the Capital City, Rome.

In Rome, Epaphroditus became next door to death, but God had mercy on him so he could head back home to Philippi. Paul writes to the church to give this man a great welcome home. Hold him in honor for he hazarded his life by coming to Rome, where dangerous diseases were sweeping the city like a scourge.

It is a majestic testimonial.

He is my brother! It is not simply a formal acknowledgment to lead the local church getting into a worship flavor. It speaks of equality –not of position titles, but of ministry involvement, of humility, and bigness of heart; it spoke of a gracious relationship.

Paul says he is my companion in labor. Their hearts beat as one. Fellow laborers. The picture is one of a farmer who prepares the soil, sows the seed, and then looks forward to the glorious time of reaping. These two were a team; they were in the harness together and reaping the harvest together.

Paul also describes him as his fellow soldier. Epaphroditus was with Paul on the firing-line. Together they endured all the hardness and discipline of daring and suffering that discipleship involves.

Paul writes to the church at Philippi that Epaphroditus is their messenger. He is Paul’s brother, companion, and fellow soldier – but he is the church at Philippi’s messenger. They sent him to Paul, now Paul was sending him back to them. He was highly esteemed, thoroughly trusted, and fully obedient to the whole of the early church.

Some church people today are so protective of their own titles and positions they withhold another from coming to serve. Jealous. Selfish. Full of self-built traditions. God is not pleased.

Epaphroditus’ resume could be summed up: Ready for anything! Anywhere, for anyone, to do anything, and at any cost.

What does your resume say?

2 Timothy 2:3 might challenge us in this way: When the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of the faithful believers, the way Jesus did!

No one quite like . . .

Vol. 4, No.3

But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. –Philippians 2:19-20

For Paul, there was no one quite like Timothy!

When a tree’s branches go out farther than the roots go deep, the tree will topple! Paul did not make this mistake with Timothy. He gave Timothy time to get his roots down and then enlisted him for the work. Personal instruction balanced by experience.

In American churches today, there is a grotesque waste of gifted pastors and people who attempt to minister where God moves them. When a person’s gift(s) are not used, God eventually moves their gifts on to a church that has effective leadership and ministry. The church the gifted leave then suffers because of their arrogance, selfishness, and adherence to the way things have always been. It is sad to see.

Paul is addressing how he uses his friend Timothy. He made sure that Timothy had the necessary gifts and experience to make a major contribution in his ministry; then he sent him on to do the ministry God had selected for him.

Experience without teaching can lead to discouragement, and teaching without experience can lead to spiritual deadness. Not using people’s gifts leads to discouragement, and not using people with teaching and ministry gifts makes for the church not accomplishing what God expects. (Note, it is the same in all walks of life!)

Courage is a man who keeps on coming on! Yes, you can slow a man like that, but you cannot stop him. The man who keeps coming on, is either going to get there himself, or he is going to make it possible for others to get there. –Captain McNelly, TexasRanger

Timothy had four terrific things going for him; (1) parental upbringing, (2) spiritual foundations; (3) God-established gifts, and (4) a deep personal drive. –R.W. Stott

The kind of man that God makes is a fearless man. God does not have a history of using cowards or one with a craven spirit. God is in the business of making the crooked places straight; often he uses a natural defect become a strength. A reed shaken by the wind becomes a pillar of boldness.

God’s man is powerful! Not necessarily having a powerful personality, but strength; first in character. He yields his softness into firmness. Effective leaders and ministry servants have had a shot of steel imbedded into their character system. Sadly, some churches are so governed by traditions (and a few managing families) that the church will never have the good experiences of the gifts God has given to the new arrivals He brings to the church.

God loves; He brings His gifted person to exude His love.There is an indispensable quality of leadership the church will sorely miss, should a church fail to use the gifts God has bestowed upon those coming into the church.

Grace had come to Timothy. It affected his heart and entered into the core of his thinking. Timothy was bold, self-controlled, and willing to help others so that they too could serve in church ministry.

Are you like Timothy?

Do not hide behind what and who you are. Expose yourself to be what God expects of you.

Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, live like a man, be strong. Let everything that you do be done in love. –1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Be Wise . . .

Vol. 4, No. 2 

For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore, I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. –Romans 16:19

The book of Romans closes with a biblical philosophy for our advancement in the Gospel. Jesus had coined a similar phrase: Be wary and wise as a serpent, and be innocent, harmless, guileless, and without sophistication as doves.–Matthew 10:16

Paul is communication with believers living in the capital city because it seemed that the world of the first century revolved around Rome.

Into the markets of Rome poured the multitudes of wealth, the merchandise of the world, and the diversity of the world. The citizens and nobles were a polished lot; cultured, proud, and holders of great wealth. They also possessed enormous power and had extensive privileges. In addition, there was abject slavery, as well as grinding poverty, and hopeless misery for many. Cruelty and oppression were a part of the pattern of the Roman life.

Can you imagine that in the midst of all this came the Christians. Many of the believers carried with them, from their past, a sophistication regarding evil, which, if remained un-crucified, could wreck and ruin even themselves in the local body life of the church. –John Phillips

Interestingly, our times are not much different. The needed balance of being wise concerning good and simple in regard to evil is a necessity. Bishop Moule of England stated it well: Be deep in the wisdom of humble faith; be contented to be unacquainted with a wisdom which has its roots in evil.

The world around us is saying just the opposite. Be simple concerning good; be wise in regard to evil. However, that is a fast track to failure.

Many mad dogs are shot; infectious diseases quarantined; most damaging drugs outlawed – the wise addresses the vile things of the world. The Scriptures caution us to be wise about goodness and give a loud response to the world’s penchant for worldly wisdom and immorality.

We need to be careful where we plant our feet. We should not go to some stinking alley and lift the lids off the grubby garbage cans to get a whiff – if you do – you will end up with the same offensive smell! Offensive odors of the world can hang heavy in the air around you.

Be wise as a serpent . . . be as uncontaminated as a dove!

Too good to deceive; too wise to be deceived –Grotius

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