Although we focused mainly on Timothy on Sunday night and then pointed out Jesus’ and Paul’s indirect impact on this passage, there is one more man who is celebrated in Philippians 2:19-30.
Go read Philippians 2:25-30.
<> Based on the passage, how is Epaphroditus described?
Taking Risk for the Cause of Christ:
The trip from Philippi to Rome is about a twenty-four hour journey by land and boat with today’s modern technology and modes of transportation. Without a doubt, Epaphroditus risks much in order to bring word and financial support from the church of Philippi to their beloved mentor, spiritual father, and friend; Paul.
<> What happened to Epaphroditus in the process of the journey?
The simple fact of the matter is that God might call some of us – some of our family members at Midtown – into intensely risky situations for the furtherance of His kingdom. Epaphroditus almost lost his life. You may have to risk your life in order to obey Jesus. YOUNG MALES BEWARE: This doesn’t mean that as a Christian we assume by formula that we should run headlong into the riskiest dumbest situation we can find hoping that we might die and become an “obedient” martyr for Christ. That’d be honorable right? No. That’d be dumb.
So how do we know when to risk and when not to? We listen to God and obey His voice which still speaks because He is still alive.
The Idol and Lie of Safety
The problem with this whole idea is that we are Americans. Whether we realize it or not we are all in danger or worshipping and valuing our own safety and comfort more than anything else. When you value anything more than Jesus, that’s called idolatry. In other words, it breaks the commandment of Exodus 20:3 that says, “You shall have no other gods before me.”
<> What evidence do you see in your life of ways that you over-value your comfort and safety?
<> Are there anyways that you are disobeying what God has called you to because of the risk involved?
Idolatry of safety and comfort will always lead to the bad kind of fear – the paralyzing fear. God says go right and we go left because we see all the danger of going right. In our heads we justify, “how could God possibly want me to do something risky?! After all what He wants most for me is safety and comfort. I’m His child after all. He loves me. He wants what is good for me.” In this manner of half-truths to justify disobedience we become guilty of the same mental game that Satan played with Eve in the garden when he whispered to her, “Did God really say . . .” (Gen. 3:1). If you want to live like Satan, then continue to use logic to disobey and ignore what God is telling you.
Risk and Mercy:
Go read Philippians 2:27.
<> What does Paul give credit to as the reason Epaphroditus survived?
I think a fundamental flaw in our thinking that exposes our idolatry of safety and comfort is when we start thinking that we deserve life, good health, safety, etc. Since we deserve that stuff we’re ok if God causes us to risk it as long as he makes it work out for our benefit in the end. It’s more of a barter system than surrender or submission. That’s not the way Paul thinks. Epaphroditus risked his life for the sake of Christ. Good. God didn’t let Epaphroditus die. Mercy. Paul says that God gave an undeserved gift of mercy by allowing Epaphroditus to live.
We all may be called to risky obedience in our following after Christ. The important understanding is that the life we have is a gift, the call to follow Jesus is a gift and if He allows us to survive until tomorrow that will also be a gift.
<> The question is will you hesitate, disobey and shake your fist at the Giver of all life, or will you trust, obey and worship Him?