The Reading: Philippians 2:19-30
“… to send to you Epaphroditus…” (v.25) RSV
No one should try to live the Christian life on his or her own. We are social creatures, and are designed to live with the encouragement and correction of others. This does not mean we all have to live in community! Many people are quite solitary by nature or can only cope with other people on a limited scale. However, to eschew all company is not healthy.
Other people bring a breath of reality into our lives. On our own we either become depressed or deludedly perfect. Other people enable us to see ourselves as others see us. This can be salutary and challenging. At other times friends can encourage and stimulate us. And this is what Epaphroditus was able to do.
Paul found it costly to send him back to Philippi. He had been sent by them to minister to Paul whilst in prison but in due course he himself was pining for ‘home’. Paul had been strengthened by his presence, but now it was time to release him and send him home. This was especially so because the young man had nearly died! We do not know how this came about, but it was a result of fulfilling his mission to Paul.
Helping others can be far more costly than we might imagine. But Epaphroditus was willing to go that extra mile. However, now he could go home; this would bring comfort to him and joy (v.28) to his home church in Philippi. We need one another. The Lord loves us and his Spirit strengthens us, but so often he works through other people. We should never be too pious or too proud to let others minister to us.
Similarly, is God prompting us to minister to someone? It may be costly, but it will be a privilege. As the Bible says: “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Thank you, Lord, for friends and for those who love me. May I also be a good friend to others. Amen.
1 How good can a good friend be?
2 How should all the parts of Christ’s body on earth work?