October 17 – Prison Letters – Observing and Affirming

Read Philippians 2:19-30

Depending on the person and the circumstances, you may tend to be blind as a bat and silent as a squirrel.  What do I mean by that?  The blind bat never sees the qualities/actions of others that merit recognition.  He fails to recognize.  And while squirrels are not always silent, it seems to me that the noise they make is never pleasant.  They seem to chatter only when they are quarreling with another squirrel…otherwise, they are pretty quiet and never affirm.  The squirrel fails to verbalize.

In our text for today, Paul seemed to have done a good job at both recognizing and verbalizing.  He gives a glowing description of two different men:  Timothy and Epaphroditus.  As you think about the affirmation you could extend to members of your family, consider some of these broad categories.

Timothy’s uniqueness- He was a “one of a kind” (v. 20).  He demonstrated a selfless compassion for others that Paul had seldom observed elsewhere.  In what positive ways are those closest to you different from most?  Have you expressed that to them?

Timothy’s faithfulness and trustworthiness- He had proven himself over time (v. 22).  Paul mentioned that without hesitation and wasn’t afraid to send him as his own representative as he sought information about the welfare of this congregation of believers he loved so much.  There are times when passing along privileges and responsibilities can be the greatest expression of affirmation.

Epaphroditus’ titles – Paul called this man “my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier” (v. 25).  Each of those terms seemed to place Epaphroditus at the same level on the organizational chart as the famous Paul.  What adjectives and titles do you use in referring to your family?  Are they endearing and elevating?

Epaphroditus’ reception – Paul considered Epaphroditus to be worthy of a hero’s welcome home (vv. 29, 30).  He had risked his life for the cause of Christ as an extension of the Philippian church’s love for Paul and their participation in the apostle’s ministry.  How have those you know demonstrated courage?  In what ways have they taken risks because of faith convictions?

If you are to grow in the affirmation you demonstrate in your family relationships, you will need to open your eyes to recognize the reasons and open your mouth to verbalize them!

Steve Kern

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