Philippians 006 – Three Ordinary Guys

Philippians 006 – Three Ordinary Guys
Philippians 2:17-30 • Dr. Andy Woods • May 10, 2020 • Philippians


Philippians 006

Three Ordinary Guys

Philippians 2:17-30

May 10, 2020

Dr. Andy Woods

All right, well, let’s open in a word of prayer, shall we, Father? We’re grateful for this very special Sunday where we recognize something that you have established yourself, motherhood and its importance, and help us to be mindful of that as we take a look into your word this morning, we’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. God’s people said, Amen.

Well, let me invite your attention, if I could, this morning. Happy Mother’s Day, by the way, to the book of Philippians chapter two and verse 17. If time permits and it won’t, so why should I even say this? But we’re going to try to get through verse 30 today. And the title of our message this morning is Three Ordinary Men. Because what’s showcased for us in the remainder of Philippians chapter two is three ordinary people that became the servants that Paul is speaking of and exhorting us all to become in this chapter. You say, what if you don’t make it to the end of the chapter? Well, we’ll just rename the sermon Two Ordinary Men and we’ll make next week one ordinary man or some combination thereof. But you’ll see Paul’s name is mentioned verses 17 through 19. Timothy is mentioned verses 19. Paul is mentioned 17 and 18 verses Timothy verses 19 through 24. And then there’s a person that I when I get to heaven, I can’t wait to meet a man that receives almost no limelight at all that I know of in the Bible other than this chapter, a man named Epaphroditus.

And you see his story in verses 25 through 30. And I think the reason that these three ordinary men are surface for us here is because by the time you finish verse 16 and you see the pattern that we are to follow, which is Jesus, who was our ultimate servant because of his emptying in what is called the Kenosis passage. We might say to ourselves, Well, you know, that’s Jesus, but it certainly doesn’t apply to me. Obviously, we don’t empty ourselves the way Jesus did, but his example is our example in terms of servanthood. And so Paul traces this concept of servanthood and application of servanthood, basically through three ordinary people. People just like ourselves. So all of us apparently have the ability to become the servants that God has called us to be. And of course, the entire book of Philippians, as you might remember, is a book about joy. It’s really a book about how to experience well-being regardless of circumstances. I was distressed, in a sense, to discover that the amount of suicides is now up because of the COVID 19 situation. Spousal abuse, domestic violence, and things of this nature are now up statistically because of the COVID 19 self-quarantine situation.

And so it’s so instructive for us to learn about this book of Philippians, The Book of Joy, really a manual about how to experience joy regardless of circumstances. So we can experience the peace of God that transcends all understanding, even under the COVID 19 lockdown. Chapter one of the book was the first clue how to do that which is developing the mental discipline necessary to see the positive in the negative. Every negative thing that happened to Paul, Philippians Chapter one, he gives four examples. Paul could always see the positive hand of God because God shows up in the midst of negative circumstances, humanly speaking. I mean, even in COVID 19, you can see positive things. You might be spending more time with your children than you didn’t do before. Having family more family interaction than what you had before. There’s always something good that can come out of it. Paul saw something good in the negative circumstances of his imprisonment in Rome. And if we develop that mental discipline of seeing the positive in the midst of the negative, of seeing the glass half full rather than half empty, you can never be held a hostage to your circumstances. You can learn. We can learn to live a life above and beyond circumstances. And so my emotional well-being, my joy, doesn’t really depend anymore on my circumstances as Paul role models us that for us in chapter one. Then in Chapter two, Paul began to explain that the way to experience joy in the Christian life is to become a servant.

We begin to live for circumstances beyond ourselves. After all, it was Jesus who said in Acts 20, verse 35, It’s more blessed to give than to receive. This is why Jesus in Luke six verse 38 says, Give and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, press down, shaken together, and running over four. By your standard of measure, it will be measured to you in return. And all the way back in the book of Proverbs written a thousand years before Jesus ever showed up on the Earth. In his incarnation, it says in Proverbs 11:24 and 25, there is one who scatters yet increases all the more. There is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous and he who waters will himself be watered. It is one of those great truisms of life that when we are living for purposes above ourselves, we experience the greatest satisfaction in life. And so I think this is why Paul in Chapter two gets deep into this subject of servanthood. I can’t experience joy being a self-centered person. Being a self-centered Christian. Many Christians, sadly, are like this. It’s all about them and themselves. And frankly, even though they may be in Christ by way of faith, they’re absolutely miserable people.

You know, I’ve met Christians that are meaner than a junkyard dog. Some of the most cantankerous people I’ve ever met in my life I’ve met in church, sadly, church situations. And you wonder why people are not walking in the joy of the Lord that God has for them. Why are they always sad-faced saints? Well, a lot of it relates to the fact that they’ve never really learned or we’ve never really learned to become servants. And that’s what Paul is dealing with here in Philippians two. And so what he does is he gives four examples of servanthood. The first one, of course, is Jesus. Paul begins this chapter, as we’ve talked about, where he says, do nothing out of selfish ambition, but consider others more highly than yourself. Well, do we have some examples of that, Paul? Paul says, I’m glad you asked. The ultimate example is Jesus who emptied himself. Philippians chapter two. And we’ve been very careful to describe what that means, how he did not empty himself of deity or the attributes of deity, but rather he voluntarily restricted their independent use in keeping with his purpose of living among men and their limitations. So one of the greatest Christological treatments that you find of the emptying of Christ and the servant of Christ that really you can find anywhere in the Word of God, the Christology or the doctrine of Christ doesn’t really get higher, in my estimation, than what you have here in Philippians two.

And how does that apply to us? We saw that last week through various points of application, but now Paul moves to his second example of servanthood. And it’s interesting who he points out here. He points out himself. Now would you do that? Mention yourself right after Jesus. That’s pretty bold when you think about it. And yet that’s what Paul does. Paul says, I’m not God. I’m not deity. But I’m following this example of servanthood as well. And so look at what Paul says there in Philippians two and notice, if you will, verses 17 and 18. He says but if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me. Paul talks about his own life as a life of sacrificial service role model to him from Jesus Christ himself earlier in the chapter and in the process of Paul describing his own life of service and this is why Paul, of course, continued to walk in joy. How do you spell joy? We’ve gone over this. J. O. Y. J. Others. J. Jesus. O. Others. Y. Yourself. And when we keep the words or the letters, I should say, in the proper order, it spells joy.

But if you put the Y in front of the J or in front of the O, it doesn’t spell joy anymore and we wonder why we’re unhappy in the Christian life. Well, that’s because we’ve become very we’ve gone back to our sin nature and we’ve become very self-centered and narcissistic. And joy disappears when we do that because the Bible is very clear that it’s possible to water others and water yourself simultaneously. You’re most fulfilled in your life when you’re in that position of servanthood. And Paul says, Jesus modeled that for us and I’m walking it out myself. So I become Paul says, exhibit number two. And in the process of all of this, he says something very interesting in verse 17, he says, If I’m being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice. Now this imagery that Paul uses where he describes his own life as a drink offering being poured out as a drink offering, he will use that image one more time about five years later, at the very end of his life, in the second Timothy, chapter four and verse six. Or he says, just before he’s ready to die. He says for him already being poured out as a drink offering and the time of my departure has come. Paul says I’m like a drink offering being poured out. That’s a tremendous metaphor for service. And of course, we ask ourselves, Well, what does that mean? What does that mean? A drink offering?

Paul, of course, was a Pharisee. He, prior to his conversion to Christianity, knew the institutions of Judaism backwards and forwards. Most people believe he’s making reference to Numbers 15 verses one through ten. And Numbers, Chapter 28 verses four through seven Where he’s describing his own life by way of analogy as a drink offering. Dr. Constable, in his online notes, says this quote Paul believed that he would die very soon. He used euphemistic expressions to describe his impending death. First, his life was being poured out as a sacrifice to God, like the daily sacrifice in Judaism. Numbers 15. Numbers 28. Soon there would be nothing left. After the Jewish priest offered the lamb, ram, or bull. In this ritual, he poured wine beside the altar. This was the last act in the sacrificial ceremony, all of which symbolized dedication of the believer to God and worship. The pouring out of the wine pictured the gradual ebbing away of Paul’s life that he had been a living sacrifice to God since the apostle’s conversion. Close quote. It’s very important to understand Paul is not pouring himself out as an offering under the Lord because he’s trying to pay Jesus back for what Jesus did to him by way of salvation. He’s not trying to somehow add to the work of Jesus, which is about 95% complete, and Paul has to kick in the 5% to get the job done.

A lot of people have that misconception in their minds. There is nothing you can do to pay Jesus back. There’s nothing you can do to complete what was somehow lacking in his sacrifice. This is why Jesus, his final words on the cross, as translated into English, are the words. It is finished. Coming from a single Greek word to Tetelestai, which means paid in full. This is not a scenario where God buys lunch and we throw in the tip kind of thing. But Paul does talk about beginning in Romans 12, around verse one, that being a sacrifice under the Lord is basically logical. It’s basically reasonable. I mean, how can I how can a person fully grasp what Jesus has done for them and then just live their lives in a self-centered way as if that sacrifice means nothing? That’s not logical. It’s not reasonable. The more Paul contemplated, the more Paul ruminated upon the completed sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the more he wanted to give himself away. Not to pay Jesus back, not to add to something that was missing somehow in the sacrifice of Jesus, but simply as an act of worship. He calls it Romans 12, verse one, his reasonable act of worship. It’s gratitude, in other words. And so that’s what Paul did. And he talks about just like the final drink offering was poured out upon the sacrifice. That’s basically what’s happening to me is my life is ebbing away.

I like what Barclay says concerning this drink offering. Quote, Paul did not think of himself as going to be executed. He thought of himself as going to offer his life to God. His life was not taken from him. He was laying it down. Ever since his conversion, Paul had offered everything to God. His money, his scholarship. His strength, his time, the very vigor of his body, his acuteness of mind. The devotion of his passionate heart. Only life itself was left to offer. And gladly Paul was going to lay that very life that God had given him down. It’s a tremendous image of the life of a servant. And basically what Paul is saying here is follow me. Follow me in your sacrifice and imitate my pattern of sacrifice as we all imitate the pattern of Jesus Christ, the ultimate sacrifice. And we think, oh, my goodness, if I do that, life is going to be so meaningless. I mean, what about my goals and my schedule and my desires and my ambitions? You’ll notice the two-fold repetition there verses 17 and 18 of joy and rejoice. You’re simply not going to walk in the joy that God has for you until we develop this mindset of servanthood. It’s not about us. In fact, it’s never been about us. It’s all about Christ at the center. Jesus, others, and yourself spell the word joy.

And Paul says, look, don’t think that the sacrifice thing is just something that Jesus did. This is something that we are to imitate, emulate, and put into practice. I’m the first of three ordinary people. Now it is true. Paul was an apostle, and we’re not. But he was flesh and blood, just like the rest of us. He had feet of clay. A sin nature. All of the limitations that we are beset with. And he says, It’s not about me. It’s about what Jesus wants to do through me to be a blessing to other people. I’m reminded of what Paul says in the book of First Corinthians Chapter 11 and verse one, where he says, Be imitators of me. Now, that’s very interesting. I mean, would you write a letter to someone and say that I don’t know if I would have the courage to do that. Be imitators of me. Watch this, just as I also am of Christ. Christ through his emptying was the ultimate servant and sacrifice. Paul says, I’m following the example of Jesus. Of course, I’m not as perfect as Jesus was. Of course, my sacrifice is not efficacious for the whole human race the way Jesus’ sacrifice was. But in this area of servanthood, I’m simply following Jesus Christ and I am a drink offering. I’m like that drink offering that’s described in the Book of Numbers, chapter 15 and verse, and also chapter 28. That final water, that final life ebbing away.

As I’ve laid it all on the line for Jesus Christ. That’s why I’m so joyful. That’s why I have the emotional well-being that I have because I’ve got joy spelled properly. I haven’t reversed things. And so Paul then becomes this tremendous example of what it is to walk in joy. Then you say, Well, he’s an apostle. He’s supposed to do stuff like that. Well, Paul says, I’m glad you brought that up. Let me also point to you, exhibit number three here, a man named Timothy who to my knowledge, was not an apostle, but he was certainly a protege of the Apostle Paul. Timothy actually, Paul calls Timothy his son in the faith. We’ll see that in just a little bit here. And he gives you another example of a person that’s walking in joy because he has become a servant. He’s not always demanding his own way, as so many of us waste our lives doing. He is someone that put Jesus and others before himself. He had joy spelled properly. He had his priorities straight and he was walking in joy. Look at what he says here about young Timothy, beginning in verse 19. 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. So Paul says, Here’s Timothy, and I’m actually in Rome and I’m actually sending Timothy from Rome back to you at Philippi.

For what purpose? Because I want to learn of your progress. Now we’re going to see here in just a little bit that Paul was not entirely certain how things were going to turn out for him. He had a general feeling about it, I guess, but he didn’t he really didn’t know. Is he going to be released from prison? Not released from prison? He didn’t know how his trial before Caesar was exactly going to go. We, in hindsight, know it went in his favor. But Paul, when he writes this, doesn’t mention that. And he basically says here, even though my circumstances are somewhat iffy, I’m not really focused on myself. I mean, I’m focused on you and your walk with Jesus Christ. And are you tapping into joy? I mean, what brought Paul joy was not deliverance in his own circumstances, but learning that his spiritual lineage or his spiritual children were walking in joy. I’m reminded of the little book of Third John. Only one chapter in the book, one of the shortest books in the entire Bible. And the third John, verse four. John says, I have no greater joy than this: To hear of my children walking in the truth. So John wasn’t like Paul focused on himself and what was going to happen to John. John, his circumstances were if he also at the end of his life, church tradition tells us they tried to boil him in either oil or water. I can’t remember exactly, but he wouldn’t die. And so they did what Domitian did. They marooned him on the island of Patmos eventually.

And it’s interesting to me that Paul is not worried about himself. John is not worried about himself. Their whole focus is on somebody else. And they want to know if their children. Which I would understand in this case as their spiritual lineage. Of course, you could apply this no doubt, to one’s physical children, but they wanted to know, are my children walking in joy and in the truth? These become tremendous role models for us in terms of being others-focused. Continuing on– continuing on with Timothy, Paul says, Philippians two, verse 20, For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely, in other words, authentically be concerned for your welfare. Timothy was somebody who saw the interests of others above himself. And you’ll notice that Timothy didn’t just do it to get a paycheck. He didn’t just do it to go through the motions. He didn’t do it as a resume builder. He did it because he was authentically concerned about the Philippians. And Paul makes the point here in verse 20 that Timothy and Paul are of kindred spirit. Now, that is a very interesting word in Greek. It means equally souled. Soul as in S-O-U-L. Equal souls. Our souls, Paul says. Timothy and myself are knitted together in such a way that we’re both walking in joy because others are pursuing their own self-interests but not Timothy, not myself. We’re following Jesus. And we’re focused on other people and their needs.

In fact, compare that to others. Verse 21, for all seek after their own interests and not those of Jesus Christ. Now, Paul, I don’t think he is making a statement about the unsaved world. I mean, that would be no front page news the unsaved world is seeking after their own interest. That’s what unsaved people do. That’s what their job description is. That’s the only thing they know to do because they don’t have the new nature or the Holy Spirit inside of them. I think what he’s talking about is people in ministry. People claiming the name of Jesus Christ, people that claim to be doing things for God. They’re all out there doing these things. In fact, Paul actually makes reference to them. You remember in Philippians one around verses 15 through 18 where he talks about people that are preaching Christ out of selfish ambition. So all of these people that he knew in ministry, he says the only one that really that’s equally sold with myself is Timothy because he is not seeking his own interests. He’s seeking the interests of Jesus Christ. It is so tempting to get involved in ministry for some other reason other than the interests of Jesus Christ. Popularity building, kingdom building, gaining, recognition, gaining I suppose people think financial status, building a bigger ministry, empire, whatever it is.

What are those things at the end of the day? They’re just wood, hay, and stubble. That will be dissolved at the Bema Seat Judgement of Christ. But not Timothy. Timothy is not motivated by that. He’s motivated by the things of God. It’s just a simple question we should all ask ourselves constantly. Do the things that break our hearts; are those the things that break God’s heart? Are the things that give us joy. Are those the things that give God joy? And so it’s easy to get involved with an alternative set of priorities. And when that happens, we wonder, well, how come I’m not experiencing the abundant life that God has for me? Well, we’ve got joy spelled wrong, don’t we? He continues on. And this is not a bad verse to look at for Mother’s Day. Actually, it’d be better if it was Father’s Day. But we can apply this to Mother’s Day. He says, But you know of his proven worth that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father. I mean, look at this man, Timothy. He serves me as a child serving his father. I mean, he doesn’t just serve Jesus. He serves me. He’s useful to me here in imprisonment, just like a child serves as Father. Timothy is serving me.

And that metaphor fits very well because in first Timothy chapter one, verse two. Paul referred to Timothy as his son in the faith, not his biological son, but his spiritual son. Apparently, Paul had had a role in leading Timothy to Christ and discipling him to the point where he even began to bring him on his missionary journeys, in particular Acts 16, his second missionary journey. And here is Paul in Roman imprisonment, and Timothy is still right there serving with him alongside Paul. Paul says in First Timothy chapter one and verse two to Timothy, My True Child in the Faith: Grace and mercy and peace from God, the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. You know, it’s Mother’s Day, Father’s Day can be sort of difficult for people because you have because of certain, you know biological realities. You have situations where some women haven’t been able to conceive and they don’t really have any physical children. And so they kind of you know sit in church as everybody is applauding Mother’s Day and they don’t really feel like they fit in because they don’t really have any children of their own. The reality of the situation is we all have children. We all have the ability to produce children, regardless of biology or infertility or any of those very difficult emotional type of subjects because even if we have no physical children, all of us have the ability to fulfill the great commission, which is to make disciples of all nations.

And you can actually begat spiritual children. I mean, there are a number of people, actually, that I look at, one man, in particular, I look at him as my spiritual father. Because he’s the one that led me to Christ. He’s the one that raised me in the things of God. And I’m not talking here about my physical father. Praise the Lord for my physical father. I learned countless things about the spiritual life from my physical father. But I’m speaking, I’m thinking of someone else that’s actually had a greater role even than my physical father himself, who I think of as my spiritual father. That was Paul to Timothy. And so you can have spiritual sons and daughters. And Mother’s Day, I believe, is just as much for you, whether you have physical children or not. Praise the Lord for physical children, but that doesn’t put any limitation on someone, whether they can celebrate Mother’s Day or not. And this is the kind of thing that Paul is articulating here. He talks here in verse 22 about how Timothy has actually been proven. Verse 22, but you know of his proven worth. And this becomes very important because in so many churches, when it comes to selecting people for boards or committees or leadership positions, we have a mentality that we’ve got X amount of seats to fill. And so let’s just grab someone with a warm pulse.

Or a warm corpse and a pulse. Well, they’ve been here for two weeks. Let’s put them into this position or put them into that position. And this becomes the problem of having an organizational diagram where you look at it and you say, we’ve got to fill X amount of slots. Because biblically, that’s not how you pick leaders. Paul is very, very clear that you pick leaders who are proven. That’s why he’s talking about his proven worth. In the selection of deacons, Paul says in first Timothy three, verse ten concerning deacons. These must also first be tested. Proven, in other words. Then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Forget the number of slots. Forget the organizational chart. Let’s get back to what God says. And let’s put people in positions. Any position in the church where they already have a proven track record. Of people in the community seeing God’s work in that person’s life. And if you have 500 people in your church that fit that category, praise the Lord. If you’ve got two, then praise the Lord. But you go with what God has given at that particular moment. And Timothy was one of those people. He was someone of dependability. He was someone of proveability. If you look there at verse 23, he says, Therefore, I hope to send him immediately. Now watch this. As soon as I see how things are going, are going to go with me.

Paul says I am commending Timothy to you. I’m sending Timothy to you because of his dependable, proveability. But by the way, as far as I’m concerned in my life, I don’t really know how things are going to go with me. So he had, Paul, a lot of ambiguity about his future. And what brought him joy was not even how circumstances were going to work out for him. When you actually back up to verse 19, what brought Paul joy was the fact that his children were walking in joy. I mean, what Paul, what brought Paul Joy was the joy of other people. What brought Paul Joy was the obedience of his spiritual lineage. And so certainly. Timothy here is being showcased as an example of servanthood, but you can see Paul’s servanthood continuing right on into this paragraph. I mean, both of these men are not focused on themselves at all. Their focus is on other people. And that’s why they’re tapping into a quality of spiritual life that most of us in Christ never experience. Because the culture and the sin nature are always trying to get us to turn inward. And the more inward we turn, the more joy disappears from the Christian life. Verse 24, continuing on here with Timothy. And he says, And I trust in the Lord that I myself will be coming to you shortly.

So receive him as you would me, is what Paul is saying. Treat him, Timothy, with the same respect you would treat me the one who 11 years earlier founded your church through the conversion of Lydia, the conversion of the Philippian jailer and his household. You know, it was my preaching, it was my ministry. It was God through me that God got you your start, got you off the ground. I’m your spiritual father, and I’m sending you my best. And I want you to treat him with the same respect you treat me. He makes a very bold statement there in verse 24 that I’m coming to you shortly. So, yes, there was some ambiguity as to his future. But as you move through the prison letters, it becomes very apparent that his optimism concerning his own circumstances is continuing to get to grow. So that’s why we take the prison letters. The four letters Paul wrote in his first Roman imprisonment Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians. And this is one of the reasons we put them in the order that we do. He wrote Ephesians first, Colossians second, Philemon third, Philippians fourth. Because as you move through those letters, you start to see his optimism increasing concerning his own circumstances. And so Timothy becomes exhibit number three on how to walk in joy. And I’m happy now that we got to Philippians chapter two, verse 25 because now we can keep the title of the sermon the same because the title of the sermon was Three Ordinary Men and in the material that we’re covering this morning, we’re getting here to number three.

He talks about a man named Epaphroditus as someone that’s completely unknown when you study the rest of scripture, someone that gets no limelight at all. Yet these are the kind of people that when I get to heaven, I can’t wait to meet these people. I mean, everybody is going to be lining up to greet Paul and Peter and everybody knows about them. But what about these guys that, you know, they really don’t issue their own thunder? They don’t attract a lot of attention to themselves. They just want to be servants. And one of them is this man, Epaphroditus, who, as we see in verses 25 through 30, was an outstanding servant of God. He reminds me of another person that we’ve studied in this church briefly when we were going through Second Timothy, a man named Onesiphorus. Onesiphorus, you’ll find him at the very end of chapter one in Second Timothy. And he’s another outstanding servant. And boy, we need let me tell you, we need some more Onesiphorus’ and Epaphroditus’ today. You know, we don’t need any more people that come into a church to pursue their own agenda. That doesn’t help. It doesn’t bless anybody. Just cause us trouble. We don’t need another group of people coming in trying to defend their own preferences.

What we need is selfless people, where selfishness is not even part of who they are. It’s not even part of their core makeup. They’re just there to be servants. And, Lord, however you want to use me, I’m available. In fact, my friend up at Duluth Bible Church, Dennis Roxer, puts it this way. He says We need fat Christians. F-A-T, fat. F faithful. A available. T teachable. And let me tell you, folks, from personal experience in the lives of many churches I’ve been to there’s just not an awful lot of people like that. But yet that’s who Paul showcases here at the end of chapter two. This man, Epaphroditus. Notice what he says about Epaphroditus there in verse 25. But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier who also is your messenger and your minister to my need. Now, who is this man Epaphroditus? He was part of that Philippian church. We’re not even sure how he got saved. Obviously, it would be most likely through the influence of that church at Philippi and the church at Philippi, one of the reasons that Paul had them so close in his heart is they kept sending financial contributions to him. You know, they didn’t just say as the book of James criticizes people be warm and be filled. I mean, they actually got behind Paul in prayer and in financial support and Epaphroditus was the one that they had dispatched to where Paul was in Rome to meet his financial needs.

Paul in verse 25, look at the metaphors that are used to describe Epaphroditus: he’s a brother. He’s a soldier. I mean, what is a soldier? A soldier is someone that continues on with the task despite opposition. A soldier is somebody who doesn’t just quit on ministry because something goes south or something goes wrong. I mean, a soldier does not leave their post. And that’s who Epaphroditus was. He’s my brother in Christ. And you notice he’s a worker. I mean, no lazy Christianity here. I mean, this is someone that actually wanted to get involved in the work of Paul. Roll up his sleeves. Perspire. And do the work of ministry. I think someone put it this way. The gospel is free, but someone’s got to put in the plumbing. I mean, I can stand up here and teach, but if we don’t have a team that’s going to put this online. The ministry impact obviously is reduced. So here we have a group of people, a small group of people in this building. Practicing social distancing, by the way, on Mother’s Day. You know, giving of themselves. Now, if you don’t have people like that, you can’t have a ministry. And so that’s who this man Epaphroditus was. Now, verse 26, I want to skip not to dishonor it, but I want us to see the context of verse 26, because it’s amazing.

We’ll do verse 27, then we’ll come back to verse 26, because verse 27 is the context of verse 26. Look at what he says about Epaphroditus there in verse 27 for indeed, he was sick to the point of death, Epaphroditus. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrows. What did this man Epaphroditus actually do for Paul, besides delivering financial gift to Paul in Rome under house arrest is he got alongside Paul and began to work. He’s called a worker and a soldier there in verse 25, and he worked himself to the point of getting sick. He worked himself to the point of illness. I mean, most of us when we get sick, gosh, I mean, yeah, we get sick for workaholism and overwork and we get sick of this and we get sick of that. How many people actually get ill physically? Because of their service to the body of Christ. I’d have to say for myself, there hasn’t been a lot of circumstances in my life where that’s actually happened. And yet that’s who Epaphroditus was. He poured himself into the ministry that God had given to Paul, assisting him wherever he could to the point where He got sick and when God physically healed him, which apparently God did, Paul says that healing was not just a blessing to Epaphroditus. It was a blessing to me, because Epaphroditus had such a powerful ministry to me.

And then in the midst of one sickness, what are people usually focused on when you get sick? Aren’t we usually focused on ourselves? Not Epaphroditus. Look at verse 26. That’s why I wanted to give you the context of verse 26, which is verse 27, and cycle back to verse 26. Look at the whole mindset of this man, verse 26. But he was longing for you all and was distressed. Look at this. This is absolutely amazing because you had heard that he was sick. So he wasn’t even just. I’m laughing because this is so far removed from American Christianity where people are running around saying, is that your divine right to be healed? Here’s the guy that pours himself into ministry to the point where he exhausts himself. And most of us in that circumstance would be completely concerned about ourselves, not Epaphroditus! He was worried that the folks in Philippi were worried about him. I mean, has that ever happened in your life where you’re worried about what other people think? About your predicament? I mean, you’re not even worried about yourself. You’re worried about other people reacting to it. I mean, no wonder these people are walking in the joy of the Lord.

I mean, look at this level of servanthood that these people, including Epaphroditus, are exhibiting verse 28. 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. Now, here’s Paul. Paul is saying I’m worried, not that he has sick, but you’re but I’m worried about your worry because he is sick. And so since God healed him, I’m sending him back to you. Not just to alleviate the Philippians, because this man obviously was a huge blessing in Philippi, just like he was a huge blessing in Rome. But to alleviate Paul’s concern about the Philippians, Paul’s focus is whether the Philippians verse 23 are walking in joy. As Paul is in Rome, not knowing how his own circumstances completely are going to turn out. Paul isn’t focused on himself. He wants to know how the Philippians are doing. And so even this man Epaphroditus, that was such a blessing to me, I’m going to send him back to you because I’m going to get word from this transaction about how things are going with you. Wow. There’s a lot of things in the Bible that I read in preparation and I just in all honesty, I see myself as completely unworthy to even teach. It’s sort of like, Lord, have you got the right guy? I have to admit, looking at this paragraph this week.

This was one of those sections. This level of sacrifice, this level of service, this level of others-centered. And this is one of the reasons I’m so fanatical about verse-by-verse teaching is because only as you’re going through the Bible, verse by verse, do you start seeing these amazing nuggets or gems. Verse 29 We may we might even get through this chapter today. That’s a greater miracle than the Epaphroditus healing, isn’t it? Verse 29 Receive Him in the Lord with all joy and hold men like him in high regard. So number one, receive him because I’m sending back to you someone that’s been a huge blessing to me, and I would be happier just keeping him here, but I’m sending him back to you so that you won’t worry about him. Then he says, verse 29 Receive him and men like him in high esteem. Now do we do this today in celebrity American Christianity? Do we take people that are unknowns in the church? And aren’t really known for their abilities in a certain area? They’re just servants? I mean, do we esteem them? I mean, Kanye West. Yeah. We’ll put him on a platform. And some of the great evangelistic crusades. I can think of some famous evangelists where they find some star or starlet that articulates some kind of minimal Christianity and they’ve got some kind of ability and they’re recognized in the world.

Boy, we’ll put that we’ll put the spotlight on them. But how about people that are just maybe they’re not even talented? Maybe they’re known by their character as givers. I mean, why don’t we? Why don’t we ever put the spotlight on them? Why don’t we ever write articles about them? I mean, it just seems to me like we’ve got the whole thing. The whole thing backwards. He says they’re in verse 30, because he, that’s Epaphroditus, came close to death. I mean, this guy worked himself to the point where we almost died. And then his concern was other people worrying about him. Amazing. Because he came close to death. For what? Because he was on a suicidal mission? No. For the work of Christ. You mean the ministry is work? Yes, it is. The gospel is free. But someone’s got to put in the plumbing. Because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me. Paul says, I needed this guy here. And you sent him to me, and I needed financial help. And you sent that financial help to me through a paradise. So you ought to take this man regardless of his skill set and you ought to show him proper respect. Course, there’s a belief and I’ll just comment on this very quick of an idea in modern-day Christianity called the health and wealth gospel that everybody is supposed to walk in health and wealth. And if they’re not, they don’t have enough faith.

You say, where can you find that? Well, I’m in Houston. There’s a big church about 20 minutes from here that teaches this round the clock and one of their favorite verses is by his stripes We are healed. Isaiah 53, verse five. How do you square that doctrine with this? How do you square that doctrine with a man who was in God’s will and got sick, not because he was out of God’s will, but in God’s will? Now it is true that this man received healing. But that doesn’t somehow negate the fact that he didn’t go through a very severe valley of bodily sickness by being directly in the will of God. Galatians four, 13, and 14, Paul talks about his own bodily illness. Romans 8:19 through 23 tells us that even our bodies are in a state of groaning, waiting for their redemption. First Timothy 5:23, Paul to Timothy says, Take a little wine for your stomach and frequent ailments. Frequent ailments. Second Timothy 4:20 Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus. Do these verses sound like everybody is guaranteed healing? I’m glad God healed Epaphroditus. But some people like this man here, Erastus. and Trophimus never got healed that we know of. Second Corinthians 12 verses eight and nine, Paul talks about how he had a thorn in the flesh.

That sounds like it hurts to me. And he asks God three times to take it away. God said no. My grace is sufficient for you. Boy, Andy, this is sure a depressing thing you’re talking about here. I mean, isn’t aren’t healings guaranteed? Yes, they are. On the other side of the second coming. Revelation 21, verse four. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. No longer will there be any death. No longer will be there any mourning or crying or pain; For the first things have passed away now. Until that time in history comes, there is no guarantee of health or wealth this side of the second coming. And you clearly see that with Epaphroditus. And when a person does get healed today, that is strictly the grace of God. And it most likely is related to not alleviating someone’s personal sorrow. But God is trying to bring someone together bodily so He can use them somewhere else. And so we’re very mixed up today and we’re very confused because we’ve gotten away from biblical Christianity. And American Christianity has usurped biblical Christianity. And so may the Lord help us. May the Lord help us this week to walk in joy. As we take on the role of servants as exemplified by Jesus and three ordinary men. Men that put their shoes on one foot at a time. Just like you do and just like I do and yet they tapped into something that most of us don’t experience because we’ve got joy misspelled and may God help us to understand this. Next week we’ll be moving into Philippians three, where we’re going to learn about a major joy killer, which is legalism and how to escape from that.

If you’re listening to that and you don’t know Christ personally, our exhortation to you here at Sugar Land Bible Church is to simply believe or trust in the Gospel message, not even so much the message, but the person of Jesus Christ who entered history, paid a price we could never pay to bridge humanity and a holy God. He asks us for salvation, not to trust in ourselves and our own works but his good work that he did for us. And that’s what saves a person. It’s a free gift that a person can receive simply by faith alone, which means reliance or trust in Christ alone. And then once that is taken care of, which is the most important issue in a person’s life as they’ve been transferred from darkness to light, then we need to learn how to live the Christian life by exploring and applying books like The Book of Philippians, which teach us the pathway to joy is the pathway to service.

And in conclusion, the ironic blessing. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace. Thank you for listening. We’ll see you next time. God bless you. You’re Dismissed.