Even when Paul was in prison for sharing his love for the gospel, instead of dwelling in self-pity he chose to seek the wellbeing of others. Instead of begging for their prayers and support, he chose to comfort their concerns for him instead. This is a true example of putting others before yourself.
Philippians 2:23-28 “23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. 24 But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly. 25 Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; 26 since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful.”
We must remember that Paul was a prisoner in Rome at this time. He had every right as a typical man to be down on life as he was a Roman by birth and Romans were never to be put in jail. He had to be considered an enemy of Rome to be where he was, and in Philippians 3:7-8 we read that Paul counted everything he had as a Roman citizen as loss for the gain of Christ. This is important to remember since he is writing this letter while in prison. Paul was facing his sentencing which could be death or life in prison and wanted moral support from Timothy at this time in his life. This is another reference to the character of Timothy in that Paul, who had been in prison before, sought the comfort of his fellow worker Timothy at this time in his life. It was not the fleshly comfort we might consider today, but the spiritual strength Timothy had and was willing to stand with Paul at this time of need. Fellowship is extremely important as you will go through trials in your life and to have not only a friend, but one who you know has a proven Godly character to stand with you at your darkest hour. We also read in verse 24 that Paul held on to the hope of the Lord making a way for his release. Paul, just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego (Daniel 3), knew His God could deliver him from death but even if the Lord did not deliver him from death, Jesus was still his Lord.
Epaphroditus, which means “lovely”, was obviously more than just the messenger from the Philippians to Paul. True he brought financial support that Paul needed, but also stayed and tended to the personal needs of Paul as well as served with Paul in the spreading of the gospel. It is apparent that Epaphroditus’ demeanor matched the meaning of his name in that Paul would have had great personal sorrow had he died while in service for the Lord. Once again remember that it is Paul who is in prison facing death and yet he is concerned for the hearts of the Philippians knowing they were saddened at the possible loss of their brother in the Lord, Epaphroditus. Even though Epaphroditus could have stayed and continued with his chosen labor with Paul, it brought Paul joy to send him back home to his beloved brethren in Philippi. How often do we see Christians today who are willing to do what is right and beneficial to another, even to their own hurt? This all points back to the living the second commandment, you should love your neighbor as yourself.
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