Friday, May 14, 2021

2021.05.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 2:25–30

Read Philippians 2:25–30

Questions from the Scripture text: What did the apostle consider “necessary” (Philippians 2:25)? What five things does he call him? For what had Epaphroditus been longing (Philippians 2:26)? Why was he distressed? How sick had he been (Philippians 2:27)? Upon whom does the apostle say God had mercy? Otherwise, what would the apostle have had? In what manner did the apostle send the recovered minister (Philippians 2:28)? What effect did he hope this would have upon the Philippians? And what effect would the success of this hope have upon the apostle? “In Whom” does Paul say to receive him (Philippians 2:29)? With how much gladness? Doing what to Epaphroditus and others like him? For what purpose had Epaphroditus come close to what outcome (Philippians 2:30)? What did he not regard as being that important? In order to do what specific ministry/service?

Christian life and ministry is hard work that comes from intense feeling at significant risk.

Christian life and ministry is hard work. We’ve already seen that we are called to work out salvation because of God works in us (cf. Philippians 2:12–13), and that Paul uses significant “effort” words like “running” and “laboring” to describe his own ministry (cf. Philippians 2:16). Now he describes Epaphroditus as a “fellow worker” and a “fellow soldier.” The worker puts forth effort to accomplish something despite obstacles and difficulty. The soldier puts forth effort to accomplish something despite opposition and danger. 

Christian life and ministry depends upon grace to be sure (Philippians 2:13), but it is a life of putting forth effort in the face of obstacles, difficulty, opposition, and danger. The Bible knows nothing of an effortless Christianity or painless Christianity, though we see on every side today false teaching that advances such counterfeits. Victory without a cross is the lie that the devil offered Christ in the temptation; and he has an army of preachers through whom he continues to offer it to Christians.

Christian life and ministry involves intense feeling. New life in Christ, by His Spirit, involves the whole man. Because we tend to compartmentalize things, and because we live in under-working and over-emotional days, we can often make the opposite error and neglect or be suspicious of Christian emotion.

But truly Christian emotion is all over this passage. We see Epaphroditus’s longing for the Philippians (Philippians 2:26), his home church who had sent him in their place to minister to Paul (Philippians 2:25Philippians 2:30). We see the implied concern of the members back home at the report of Epaphroditus’s illness. We see Epaphroditus’s reciprocal distress over their distress. We see the apostle anticipating how great his sorrow would have been if the Lord had taken the dear brother (Philippians 2:27). We see the eagerness of the apostle to relieve both Epaphroditus and the dear ones back in Philippi (Philippians 2:28). We see the anticipated rejoicing at the surprise reunion, when Epaphroditus arrived with the letter. We see the comfort that this anticipation brought the apostle. We even see a command unto gladness in Philippians 2:29!

That’s a great deal of relational emotion in one little paragraph of Scripture. Believers are not to be unfeeling. The comfort and steadiness that we have in Christ enables us to refuse wrong feelings and to embrace intensely proper feelings. There is not only significant effort in a true Christian life, but also significant emotion.

Christian life and ministry comes at significant risk. The apostle tells them that Epaphroditus almost died in Philippians 2:27. But in Philippians 2:30, he adds the info that he willingly came close to death in order to do the work of Christ at the risk of his life. Of course, we cannot keep our lives, and as soon as our usefulness is up, we shall leave this world. This attitude of Epaphroditus is essentially the same as that of Timothy in Philippians 2:20-21, and it should be ours as well.  

The apostle even implies that this is what the Philippians would have (ought to have?) done, if they could, when he says, “to supply what was lacking in your service” (Philippians 2:30). Christ has done everything for us, and we cannot lose what He has worked for. So, we should be willing to “lose” anything else, in order to work for Him. Offer your bodies as living sacrifices!

What effort are you putting into your walk with Christ? Into serving others in your congregation of Christ’s church? What circumstances in your church have been the occasion of biblically Christian emotions for you? What expense or risk have you put forth to serve Christ in His church?

Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH405 “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord”

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