How do people respond when they meet you? Do people come and embrace you? Or do they avoid you? The reality is that how you view others often determines how they view you!
The truth is- people avoid people. I wish it wasn’t that way- but they do
The Bible gives a recipe to us for how we can be people who others want to be around and be in relationship with- To be received with gladness and held up in Esteem!
If you’re looking to build relationships in life and in the church- this message is for you!
Maybe that’s not important to you- but apparently it was important to God
READ Phil 2:25-30
Epaphroditus appears to be a great man to Paul and the philippian church. He ministered to Paul, had love for the church, Was sad because they were worried about him. Epaphroditus almost died, but God saved him. This blessed E but also blessed Paul as well, because apparently a loss of E would have been devastating to him. Paul says- I eagerly sent him so you can be happy and I can not be sad. So when you see him, do it with gladness and esteem him. Why? He worked so hard for Jesus that he almost died, because he didn’t care about his life, but cared more for you, Philippian church.
This Epaphroditus sounds like a pretty solid dude. A fellow missionary with Paul- sold out for the cause- willing to do what it takes to spread the Gospel!
Its pretty awesome to think about the kind of impact that he has had on Paul- and the Philippian Church.
This church loved Epapahroditis so much that they hurt when they found out he was sick
In all of my life, I’ve never heard a sermon preached on Epaphroditus- but the truth is- he’s the type of Guy that we can look at as someone who SHOULD be esteemed in the church-
Someone who people can look at as an example for us and to us as we walk out our faith
There’s four character traits that Epaphroditus had, that Paul described that can help guide us as we walk out our faith in Jesus- as we build relationships with others and in the body
The name Epaphroditus literally means a devoted Christian- that’s what his name means
And simply- when you’re a devoted Christian- you’ll be esteemed and people will receive you with gladness- and in that- you’ll build better relationships
Paul used 3 things to describe E- Brother, Worker, Soldier,
I really want to dig into this description because I think its where the bulk of the relationship happens- and why people loved and esteem Epaphroditus so much
Notice- they all have the same umbrella- 30 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.
If you love your life too much, following Christ will be a burden not a blessing to you
Paul describes Epaphroditus as his brother.
This theme of “family” in the new testament is a distinction that I think that many people miss
Christianity has turned into church attendance and that’s not the way it was intended
Nothing wrong with attending church- but coming in and going out and never building love relationships wasn’t God’s intention
Paul describes Epaphroditus as his “brother” which to me is a term of endearment
This is counter to the culture of the world- we see our fellow believers as “family” more than just our “fellow attenders”
Ephesians 2:19-22 READ fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God
John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name
The Bible doesn’t declare that we are all God’s children- We’re not. We are all of the seed of Adam, but we’re not his child until we begin to follow him
Matthew 12:50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
This is the mindset we should have about our fellow believers in Christ- inside and outside the church
But especially INSIDE the church- this is the place where we get it right-
Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Not at the expense of the those outside the church- but when people come in- they should see our LOVE for each other as in indication of our love for GOD-
Its what Jesus told us to do-
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. That’s for BELIEVERS!!
Therefore- Love your family in Christ! Treat them like family! Not like people you don’t love
I get it- it takes time to build these types of relationships- but we need to build them-
God wants us to spend time with each other and build long lasting relationships-
These take TIME- but we need to build them- we need to be in love relationships with others
If you’re not building relationships with your Christian family you’re being disobedient to the scriptures-
1 John 3:15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
People say- “relationships aren’t really my thing” well, they’re God’s thing- so you should get on board
“people don’t like to be around me” Maybe there’s a reason for that- maybe you should ask someone you trust to tell you things about yourself that you don’t want to hear
Reasons people don’t like people- Negative, needy, angry, self centered, gossipy, emotionally unstable, emotionally frail, inappropriate, interpersonally exploitive, bad habits, mean, inconsistent, unfriendly, closed, talk to much, don’t talk enough,
Ask a well adjusted person what you need to work on- they will tell you-
Talking to Brian Bracket—“love you like a brother” no.. “I love you brother”
This description of Epaphroditus to me, gives another indication of why he was received with gladness and respected among the church
Paul describes him a ‘fellow worker’ someone whom, to Paul, was seen as a fellow worker in Christ
This idea of a loner Christianity is a modern phenomenon. Historical Christianity has always been in community, and with other believers
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
Psalm 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity
We are the family of God- but we are fellow workers in this endeavor-
1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building
The problem today is no different than back then- people are lazy. They don’t want to work in the church.
In the Army- Fellow worker who never did work- I don’t know how they did it- every time there was work to be done, they’d disappear. Sickness, appointment, family issues, car issues
Sure, there may be some hurt, or fear or lack of understanding, but laziness is not of God
Paul say Epaphroditus as a fellow worker, because more than likely, he put in the work of the ministry! Namely, preaching the Gospel of Christ- getting people to know Jesus
Is that your mentality when it comes to church? Do you see your brothers/sisters as fellow workers? Or do you see them as your servants meant to serve you?
I wonder how it would change things at church eating functions if we lived out this verse
2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat
Its biblical! Sure, it may hurt, but seriously, why are some people so unwilling to get their hands dirty and do some work?
Its not just childrens ministry- it’s the idea of being here- sure, pick up some trash on your way in, but have this mentality of wanting to do the work of the ministry with your fellow believers
Cook a meal, go out to coffee, help them move, have a conversation, find those who don’t know the Lord and lead them.
Fully engaged in the work of the ministry and the success of God’s church-
If you’re not being esteemed and welcomed with Gladness maybe you’re a taker and not a worker
Am I being mean?
Proverbs 18:9 He who is slothful in his work Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer
Proverbs 21:25 The desire of the lazy man kills him, For his hands refuse to labor.
Hebrews 13:16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
Heads up folks- we will work in Heaven
Revelation 22:3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.
As a former military man, I appreciate the Soldier aspect of Epaphroditus. Truth is, there is a whole lot of military references in the Bible
Eph 6 Put on the whole armor of God
Psalm 144:1 Blessed be the Lord my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle—
Philemon 1:2 to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house
Soldier references are in the NT and the OT. Many times in the OT there was an army of the Israelites that waged war against those who were against God
God asked the Israelites on many occasions to “go to war” to defend Israel
I’ll let you know right now- I’m not a Christian pacifist. I believe that sometimes violence is the answer. I’m not going to allow someone within my reach to be physically hurt and stand by and pray- that’s not me
This portion of the sermon isn’t about that- its about this- Taking on the persona of a soldier in your walk with Christ will bring you esteem among men. They will receive you with Gladness
Here’s the deal- Every soldier considers the other soldier their brother, they also do not accept the lazy within their ranks. If you’re part of the Lords army, you better pull your weight
In basic- We had boys and girls together- ruck marches- early on they’d try to help people carry their ruck, but we got scolded for it- The solider must depend on their fellow soldiers but they must be able to carry their own weight as well
Characteristics of Soldiers- List I found at www.nvti.ucdenver.edu/…/strengths.pdf
Leadership Training: 2. Ability to Work as a Team Member and as a Team Leader: 3. Ability to Get Along with and Work with All Types of People: 4. Ability to Work Under Pressure and to Meet Deadlines: 5. Ability to Give and Follow Directions: 6. Drug Free: 7. Security Clearances: 8. Systematic Planning and Organization: 9. Emphasis on Safety: 10. Familiarity with Records and Personnel Administration: 11. Ability to Conform to Rules and Structure: 12. Flexibility and Adaptability: 13. Self-Direction: 14. Educated: 15. Initiative: 16. Work Habits: 17. Standards of Quality and Commitment to Excellence:. 18. Global Outlook: 19. Client and Service-Oriented:. 20. Concerned About the Community and Family Environment:
How many of those directly apply to living a life as a soldier of Christ? Most of them!
Not every body’s job in the Military is to be on the front lines- there are 12 support personnel standing behind every infantry soldier that enables them to do their job
Same in Christian family- General Stan doesn’t do the same as Private Ellis- But they both contribute to the cause-
As a Christian- we must be good soldiers for Christ- Military they make you into a war machine
In Gods army you’re made into a Loving servant of Christ- willing to do whatever is asked
2 Timothy 2:3-4 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
Are you entangles with the affairs of this life to the point that you’ve fallen into dereliction of duty?
We must soldier on- Military- anywhere you were any other military member can call you out and correct you if you’re in the wrong- why? It reflects poorly on the whole team
We should have the same team mentality when we are endeavoring to do great things for God
Proverbs 25:26 A righteous man who falters before the wicked Is like a murky spring and a polluted well.
Don’t be a murky spring and a polluted well- but received with Gladness and esteem!