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The most valuable people are those who serve. That's why they receive the recognition and opportunities others would like but don't receive because too often their selfishness overrides their usefulness.

The New Testament abounds with men and women who discovered the spirit of servanthood. Among the long list of those who worked with and served Paul is Epaphroditus, who risked his life in the call:
Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.
(Phil. 2:25-30)
Epaphroditus is a name associated with the goddess of gambling. Paul plays on the word when he refers to the man risking (gambling) his life for God. This man had gambled his life for the sake of serving God. In the same way, during the plague in 252 A.D., the Christian Bishop, Cyprian, led the early Christians of Carthage to bury the dead and nurse the sick in the stricken city when bodies were thrown into the streets. There was a group called the "paraboloni" (the gamblers) who visited prisoners and the sick, especially those who were dangerous or who had highly infectious diseases.

Epaphroditus had braved the wild seas that stormed at that time of year, the treacherous back roads to Rome, and the danger of being associated with Paul, the man charged with treason. He moved into the prison to be a servant to Paul in his suffering, as there were little or no provisions, food, clothing, or bedding for prisoners.

Paul was moved to write by the need of the church to be comforted. They loved Epaphroditus so much they had become distressed when they heard he was sick. Paul was aching to visit the Philippian church.

Paul calls Epaphroditus brother, fellow worker, fellow soldier, messenger, and minister.
  • Brother: This implies he has the same father, and therefore carries the same genetics, the same instincts.
  • Fellow worker: Epaphroditus is not a "consumer" Christian but a "producer" Christian. Paul says that just as he worked, so did Epaphroditus. This is about being useful and proving our worth. Our fellowship is in working together.
  • Fellow soldier: This is a man who fights the good fight. When I fight, so does he. Our fellowship is in that we are fighting the same fight. He covers me when I need it, and I cover him when he needs it.
  • Messenger: Paul is saying that Epaphroditus can be trusted with carrying my message, not his own. I can trust him to take gifts I am giving to others.
  • Minister: He ministers to me and to others so they are impacted, transformed, touched, and blessed.
Source: Top 10 Qualities of a Great Leader by Phil Pringle
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Phil Pringle
Web site: Christian City Church
My wife, Chris and I, with the kids and some good friends came to Sydney in 1980 to start a church. We had 13 people at our first service but the congregation grew rapidly and we moved buildings, bought land and built a school. We began planting churches around Sydney, then Australia, then the world; we now have close to 300 congregations in our movement. Our 2020 Vision is to plant and grow 1000 churches and we�re on target to meet this.

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