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, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 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. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.—Philippians 2:25-30

            Have you risked your life in service to Jesus?  Epaphroditus did.  I am sure it would have been more comfortable for him to stay in the confines of his home and not venture out in service to our Lord and His people.  But that is not what he did.  Instead, he became ill while serving Paul in the work of Christ.  This has been true of believers down through the ages.  They do not run from danger, but into it.  Not that they want to get sick or die, but they will not retreat from serving Jesus in the midst of it.  Yes, of course they would take whatever precautions they could, but their desire was to serve their King and their neighbor in the midst of difficulty.

            So while Epaphroditus was involved in the work of Christ he became ill to the point of death.  But God was gracious and restored him to health and there was great joy because of it.  Joy was experienced by those who knew him and also less anxiety for Paul.  Paul had experienced much sorrow in his life and if Epaphroditus’ illness would have ended in death then Paul would have had much sorrow. But God had mercy on him.

            How grateful to have those who are willing to risk their lives in service for Jesus.  When difficulty occurs the followers of Jesus may respond differently as mention in some interesting thoughts by Martin Luther. In 1527, Luther wrote the letter “Whether one may flee from a deadly plague” as the bubonic plague passed through Wittenberg.”  Yes, followers of Jesus will take various actions in the face of death, but let us not forget that “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14-15).  Jesus freed us from the fear of death.  Now “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).  He is the one we will give account to (II Corinthians 5:10).  So let us live according to His desires for each of us that we might hear those words— “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

Dear Father may this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus.

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