My friend, Alan Norton, died just a few weeks ago. He was a real Christian gent who overcame all kinds of handicaps to live a full and happy life into his 80’s. When I was 15, I spent 10 days in London with ‘Uncle Alan’ (as I knew him then) and his mum, Bessie. Alan took me all over. I remember an outing to the Science Museum. At the time I thought it was the best museum I had ever visited. I was thrilled with all the working models that illustrated what might otherwise be more abstract principles.
Earlier in ‘Philippians’ 2 Paul has written: ‘’Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. ‘’ In the latter part of Philippians 2, we are introduced to two men who were just that: Timothy and Epaphroditus.
Paul was no ‘prima donna’ (25) who saw himself as Christianity’s big star. In fact he probably had no idea of how future generations of Christians would view him. He had no sense of superiority to Epaphroditus. (Notice that this relationship was close and respectful, but also different to the more intimate ‘father-son’ language used regarding Timothy.)
Epaphroditus was an example of (20, 21) working in the opposite direction. He was their ‘Timothy’ to Paul. Think of the humility and servant-like spirit it took to go and be with Paul in prison and take care of his needs. He nearly died in the cause (26, 27, 29, and 30). In those days prisoners were not provided with food. They would starve if there weren’t family and friends to care for them and their needs. The church at Philippi, it appears, sent Epaphroditus to be with Paul in his imprisonment: to cook his food and take care of his needs.
Even in his serious illness, Epaphroditus had profound concern for the feelings of others (26). Such unselfishness and generosity is truly counter-cultural. It can be a rarity, even in the church (20, 21).
Timothy and Epaphroditus appear at the end of chapter 2 as living illustrations (working models) embodying the principles set out in (1-11). They offered humble, sacrificial service, putting themselves on the line for the sake of others. This is our calling too.
Prayer: Lord let my only aim be to give and not to get.