The Apostle Paul did not allow his circumstances (of being in prison for preaching the gospel) to hinder His calling as a minister of the Gospel, but rather as we heard earlier his being in prison actually furthered the effect of the Gospel. While in prison, he utilized a couple of coworkers that not only ministered to others, but who ministered to Paul himself. Paul had learned to not only minister to others, but he also received ministry from others, as in from Epaphroditus. (Philippians 2:25)
Paul was not a one way servant in that he spent his time serving others, but he himself knew that he needed encouragement and help himself. We about this in his letter to the Roman church.
Romans 1:9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;
10 Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.
11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;
12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
He cared deeply for those in the congregation that he had helped plant and now he wished to know how they were doing in their Christian faith. So he sent unto them Timothy and then Epaphroditus. He knew and trusted the character of Timothy, who available to go.
Philippians 2:19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.
20 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.
21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.
22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.
23 Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.
24 But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.
He then sent Epaphroditus, who was also available and who had ministered to Paul himself. Epaphroditus was not only available, but he was also sensitive to the wants of Paul. Paul knew of his brother’s sensitive heart for he had experienced the kindness of Christ through him, not only for himself, but for those in the Philippian congregation.
25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.
26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.
27 For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
28 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.
Ephaphroditus was not only available, he was sensitive to the needs of the Philippians, but he was also reliable. Paul could count on him to do as he was sent to do, for Epaphroditus did not count his life dear to him, but understood and ministered putting himself last. He lived by J.o.y.
30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.
We are now at the halfway point in our studies through the letter to the Philippian church, or we might say we are halfway through the letter of the Lord to our beloved Kingston congregation. May we pause in order to reflect on what the application might be for us from the Word of the Lord? It would be good to do so and let us start by looking at the big picture.
The title that is given to the message today is “Caring and being cared for.” That was chosen to reflect the reality that within every congregation there are basically two categories of people: Those who are able to care for others and there are those who need caring for. We already saw how the Apostle Paul kept this in balance, recognizing that as he ministered to others, that he needed their reciprocal ministry towards him.
In our readings today, (2 Samuel 9) and (Luke 10:25-37) we witnessed the kindness of God demonstrated by David and Kindness Himself having compassion on the man who appeared to be dead on the road to Jericho. When we have received the kindness of God through Christ in that we have by grace through faith become a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1;3-4), we are a new creation created unto good works in Christ Jesus. We have been rescued along the road by the Kindness of God and have been given all that is needed to be scatterers of the Kindness of God. David, even though living in the Old Testament times, was indwelt by the kindness of God so that he asked the question in 2 Samuel 9
KJV 2 Samuel 9:1 And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan's sake?
3 And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet.
After Jesus asked the lawyer which one of the three was a neighbor to the man lying on the side of the road, he answered, “He that showed mercy unto him,” he was basically saying that the one that showed kindness to him.’
Jesus responded: Do, and do likewise. Go and demonstrate the mercy of God towards your family, towards your brothers and sisters in the church, and towards the world.
Have we experienced the Kindness of the Lord? If so, how are we living out that which we have received from the Lord? Who might we be kind to today?
Are we available to serve? Are we sensitive to the needs of people? Are we reliable?
Lord, please guard our relationships from the evil one, strengthen them in faith and trust in You and deepen our understanding and experience of Your love for us. In Jesus Name, Amen
Pastor Orval Wirkkala