Our morning worship was led by Aaron Davies-Whitfield who preached from Philippians 2: 25-30. He reminded us of the importance of being faithful to the text.
In this portion of Scripture we read about Epaphroditus, a small yet mighty man, who is also mentioned in Philippians 4:18. That is all we read of him in the Bible. He was the pastor of the church at Philippi. In Acts 16 we read Paul received the Macedonian call in a vision, Paul felt that God wanted him to go to Macedonia, to the chief city, Philippi. It was here where Lydia was greatly saved, the Philippian jailor and his household were saved, the possessed woman was saved. Now we have this wonderful church of which Epaphroditus is pastor. This morning we are going to explore the character, condition and conduct of Epaphroditus.
Although he was mentioned so briefly in the Bible, Epaphroditus was a great man. This should be an encouragement for us; though our name may not be out there, we can still be a great blessing. God always sees. What Paul had to say about Epaphroditus was great. He called him, ‘My brother and companion in labour, and fellow soldier.’ (Philippians 2:25). Anyone who seeks to serve is a soldier. We are called to take up arms, not as extremist religious groups, but through the Word of God. We march with a different banner – the banner of Christ. We don’t march in aggression, we seek to win battles for the Lord, to make the name of Jesus Christ known, ‘Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.’ (Ephesians 6:11). We are in a battle. Up there is our eternal rest, when the final victory of the Lamb will resound from every believers’ mouth. But from down here we must never give up the fight. Hold fast, be resilient. We have an adversary; Peter says we must not be ignorant of his devices, we must not bury our heads in the sand. We march for the gospel – that is the great weapon that will win every fight. There is power in the name of Jesus to conquer every foe and every enemy. Are you on the Lord’s side – a soldier of Christ?
Epaphroditus was Philippi’s messenger. The people of Philippi were the only ones who ministered to Paul, the only ones who provided finances. Give to those who He calls to bless you and in return you’ll be blessed. You must give to the house of faith, to ministers. The people also ministered to Paul in that they sent their love and fellowship to Paul. No church or minister is an island. We need to agree on the gospel, on evangelistic truth. There must be unity, even though we have differences. As churches we must come together, putting aside our disagreements and come together for the greater cause of the gospel. Epaphroditus had a wonderful character – caring and loving. We need to be loving towards pastors, even if we disagree and have fallouts we must love one another. Being a minister of God is not a career, it’s a calling, a gracious gift. It’s a choice God makes for you. It’s important that those who God calls are faithful and love the church.
Epaphroditus was in a poor condition, ‘For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. 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.’ (Phillipians 2: 26-27). This is a delicate issue. Here, Epaphroditus was healed by God. It’s important to notice Epaphroditus was sick, yet he was faithful and following the Lord.
We are in fallen bodies, in a fallen world where sickness abounds. One day we will have glorious bodies. Sickness is a result of sin, but not personal sin. There is a strong teaching that healing and miracles have passed away. But, as we see here, healing is not just a sign for unbelievers. God has mercy on Epaphroditus. ‘Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven.’ (James 5: 13-15).
Do we pray for people to be healed? We must not let our experiences dictate our theology. Just because we are not seeing miracles or healings does not mean that God is not able to heal. God is sovereign. He can heal – the Bible says so. Does He always heal? No. There are times when God won’t heal but we still pray. Never limit God to your understanding. We need to raise our spiritual temperature and see more of the power of the Holy Ghost, we need to believe and call upon the Lord. God is all powerful and can do all things as we are reminded in Acts 4:29 and again in Acts 6:8, ‘And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.’
Ultimately, God had mercy on Epaphroditus. He was healing not just to establish the gospel but because God was merciful, He cares. Even if He does not heal you, He will uphold you. God wants to see His church rise and see a wonderful moving of His Spirit and impart power to His people. Never limit God, He is able to do all things. Epaphroditus was sick, but God had mercy on him. Sometimes, God allows these things. Paul had a thorn in the flesh. God can use these things because it makes us homesick; we are to long for a better place, a better city, where there’s no sickness, no sorrow, no heartache, where all tears will be wiped away and we will be like Jesus. Everything here is temporary.
Epaphroditus was sold out for the Lord. Strive for the Lord. He will rewards the labours of His people. ‘And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.’ (Galations 6:9)