Philippians 2:29-30 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: (30) Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.
Epaphroditus had traveled over 800 miles from Philippi to Rome, most of which he probably covered on foot, to deliver a care package to the apostle Paul, who at that time was a prisoner of the Roman Empire. At some point he became sick, languishing almost to the point of death. Paul believed that only a divine intervention spared his life. The apostle then sent Epaphroditus back bearing the inspired Epistle to the Philippians, and gave him three special terms of endearment – “my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier.”
Paul then told the Philippian church to give Epaphroditus a hero’s welcome – to hold such in reputation, because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life. Here was a selfless man, a consecrated Christian, a godly person who was willing to endure hardness and sacrifice for the cause of Jesus Christ. “Hold such in reputation.”
Who are your heroes? Are they real people or fictional characters? Are they godly or ungodly? Are they spiritual or carnal? Do they live for Christ or live for themselves? Are they consecrated or worldly? Are they flesh and blood humans or cartoon characters? Are they active, dedicated servants of God or active, dedicated servants of selfish pursuits?
Some Christians will wear the jersey of their favorite athlete in public, but are ashamed to wear a t-shirt advertising their church or Saviour. Some Christians will read comic books by the hour, but sleep through a missionary presentation. What does this say about us?
Not all superheroes wear capes. In our churches, there are some who wear inexpensive suits and hand-me down dresses. All heroes aren’t on TV or the radio. But some do teach Sunday School or visit poor kids on bus routes. Some work long hours to provide for their family and still make the time to serve the Lord. Some work through sickness and physical infirmities that will never change this side of heaven. No, they don’t all wear capes – in fact, none of the real ones do!
I am thankful for the Christian heroes who have made an impression on my life. In studying this passage I was reminded of my youth pastor when I was a very young Christian. Our youth pastor worked full time for a freight company, but they would not give him the week off he needed to take us to youth camp. The morning we left for camp, he gathered our group and announced that he had quit his job in order to take us, and that we needed to pray for him to find work when we returned from camp.
I was a teenager and didn’t understand that sacrifice then like I do now. This was a young man in his twenties with a wife and two little daughters, and yet he had quit a good paying job because he believed it was God’s will to do so. It made an impression on me. (And God did provide another job and over the 20+ years since has used him greatly).
Who are your heroes? Why not look around your house? You might be surprised what you find. What about around your church? What about on the mission field? There are still Epaphroditus’ out there, those that we should hold in reputation, people we should look up to and whose examples are worth following.
Thank you for reading. God bless.