” 25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. 26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. 27 For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.”
Now that Paul has sent Timothy to be the pastor of the Philippian Church he dispatches Epaphroditus to be his messenger between the church and his prison cell in Rome. There are several people in the New Testament with similar names and we must be careful not to get them confused. This particular Epaphroditus was a member of the Philippian Church before he joined with Paul. And as you can see in this passage Epaphroditus had become a companion alongside Paul. He was in a position that he ministered to Paul on a regular basis.
Epaphroditus obviously had a longing to be back in his own church. I know what that feels like. Due to my cancer treatments I’ve been in church twice in the last 4 months. I miss the people but more than anything else I miss the corporate worship. It’s easy to sit around the house and listen to Christian music on the Sirius Radio on my TV, or on my computer using YouTube and watching some good videos. But absolutely nothing takes the place of corporate worship. The sound of voices filling the auditorium with praise is an awesome experience. I’m sure ministering beside Paul they had times of worship but it’s not the same as being with a bunch of people.
There’s also the fact that the church had heard that Epaphroditus had been sick. And Paul says here that he was very sick, almost to the point of dying. What is awesome is that Paul says that God had mercy on him. Do you look at it that way when you’re healed from any sickness? That God had mercy on you? I know my statement all along no matter what I have faced during this trial I’m going through now is that God has been very merciful to me. This multiple myeloma was found early before it affected me in anyway and I am so grateful to God for being merciful to a sinner like me. We can always depend on his Mercy.
Paul also declares that the mercy was towards him because Paul would have been very sorrowful to lose Epaphroditus. He was a trusted friend and traveled with Paul for many years and became a messenger that could be trusted between Paul and the Philippian Church. We need to be that type of trusted individual for our pastors. We need to uphold them and love them and make sure that we’re only speaking good of them. I have no doubt that most pastors get enough grief. They certainly don’t need to get it from us. Can your pastor trust you to always have his back? Let’s be like Epaphroditus!
Lord, my desire is to be like Epaphroditus. I want to always uphold my pastor, walk beside him, let him know I am always there for him, and never let him down. Pastors need men and women in the church who will stand with them no matter what. There are always enough people who will moan and groan and complain about what he preached, or the service, or some decision he has made. Let me now be that one!