November 7 – Philippians – Timothy & Epaphroditus

Read Philippians 2:19-30

Be like Jesus!

That is a high calling. It is the instruction that Paul gave earlier in Philippians 2. Specifically, he invited us to demonstrate the humble, others-first orientation that Jesus reflected in becoming man, and serving, dying, and being raised for humanity. Jesus is our worthy example.

But we can also rationalize that Christ-likeness is an ideal beyond our reach. Perhaps that is the reason Paul included the description of the two individuals in our reading today. They were normal men that Paul was sending to the believers in Philippi. Still, they are human examples of what Jesus calls all of us to and reminders that you and I really can reflect Jesus in life.

Timothy was the first. Paul described him as a “one of a kind” servant of God. The thing that set him apart from the crowd was his selflessness. Timothy was a living example of the old adage that “JOY” is found in living the priorities of Jesus, Others, and then You. He placed the interests of Christ and of the Philippian believers ahead of his own. Timothy was living, flesh-and-blood proof that, while prioritizing the interests of others may be unique in the world, it is not humanly impossible.

Epaphroditus was the second example of what it looks like to humbly and sacrificially serve others the way Jesus did. He was a messenger sent from the Philippian church. In all likelihood, he carried a financial gift from the church designed to meet Paul’s temporal needs, while enabling him to give greater attention to the spiritual needs of others. But, while representing the church and serving Paul, Epaphroditus became deathly sick. Gratefully, he recovered. As Paul sent him back, he invited the church to extend to Epaphroditus a “hero’s welcome.” He had risked his own life for the needs of others and the progress of the gospel.

Maybe you need the reminder today that being like Jesus isn’t so far out of reach after all. People like Timothy and Epaphroditus have illustrated what that might look like. It includes setting aside your own interests in order to see others served and the purposes of God accomplished. Your expression of the life of Jesus in you may not seem to totally set you apart as a “one of a kind” or make you feel worthy of a “hero’s welcome.” Nevertheless, it is noted by your Father, and it blesses others.

Steve Kern

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