I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also. 25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
Paul pauses his instructions and encouragement to speak to the church about two important men, Timothy and Epaphroditus. They are both with Paul now in Rome, and have been serving with him in various ways. Epaphroditus was the person who originally was sent from the Philippian church to Paul to give him some financial support and encouragement while he was imprisoned. And Timothy has ministered along side Paul for years. Just like these men have encouraged Paul, he hopes to “return the favor” and send them back to Philippi to minister. Paul can’t be with the Philippian church, but he sends them people that he trusts and knows will be faithful.
Looking at the high praise he has for these men shows us the personal and familial way the church functions. Paul praises their genuine concern, serving like a son, being fellow soldiers, and Epaphroditus even risking his life to deliver the letter and funds to Paul in Rome.
As I read these verses I found myself wondering, would I really risk my life for my fellow Christians? I mean, I love you all, but to be honest I’m just not sure! That’s quite the sacrifice to ask for. But if I ask myself, would I be willing to risk my life for my family, for my husband or children or parents I am much more willing. Because they are my family! That’s what you do for family. Think about it, if your child or parent or sibling needs something, you do what you can to help them out. You probably don’t think twice to pick up their groceries, loan them your car, or take care of them when they are sick. Again because they are family.
The truth that we see in this early church, and in Paul’s description is that other Christians are indeed our family. He describes Timothy serving “as a son” and Epaphroditus as his “brother”. Which causes me to ask myself if I really see other Christians as family, and serve them in such a way? Because the truth is that even if I don’t feel that same bond or affection or comfort with them as I might with my family, that is exactly what we are. Family. We are already united in Christ, and the exciting thing is that we will spend eternity together!
So let’s examine our view of each other as a family. Our church is well known for being a “people church”, but let’s look at the examples of these two men and consider if we have genuine concern for and sacrificial love for each other. Let’s ask ourselves how can we be more intentional in loving our church members as we love our family. And let’s thank God for the amazing gift He has given us in the body of Christ.