"I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest n your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon." (2:19-24) This part of Scriptures reminds me that this was an actual letter to the people of Philipi. Paul was actually in jail writing to the those he loved. It always makes me pause when I read this part of the book of Philippians because up until this point it was profound, and convicting Scripture and it still is, but it was also an actual letter to actual friends. The take away for me is: 1. Paul's close relationship with Timothy, "...as a son with his father." These two served together and loved each other like family. 2. Timothy is young and yet he, "...has proved himself..." in that there is, "... no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare." Timothy was dedicated to the spreading of the Gospel and being a servant as was Paul. 3. Paul is real. He sees and knows that not everyone does the work of Christ with the right motive or heart. "For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ." He doesn't wear rose-colored glasses. He sees things as they really are and yet can love and serve as Christ. I, on the other hand, sadly, can see the selfishness in someone and then have a hard time loving and serving them. 4. Paul is really in jail while writing this letter and he's not loving it. He might be content, but wants to be set free and go about doing what he was doing before the arrest- which was sharing the Gospel and seeing his friends. Paul was a real guy with real human emotions. He didn't want to be in jail forever and was hoping and praying for his own release.
"But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill and almost died. But God has mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me." Again, Paul is writing the Philippians not just to encourage them or teach them something, but to communicate about their mutual friends. Here, Paul talks about Epaphroditus. He was: 1. Paul's 'brother', 2. fellow worker, 3. fellow soldier 4. messenger 5. nurse ('took care of my needs') 6. almost a martyr. The Philippians sent Epaphroditus to be a help to Paul. I love that they cared enough for Paul to send someone to care for him and stay with him during his imprisonment.
I know Paul spoke about Epaphroditus’ illness and near death and that may mean nothing to us, but I love that Paul wrote, “But God has mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.” God was not only merciful to heal his dear friend for his friends sake, but merciful to Paul to spare him, "sorrow upon sorrow." Paul was really suffering in jail and suffered watching his friend so sick. In his sorrow he wrote about God's goodness. He wrote about joy! He knew and did not forget how good God is in his own trail.
Father, help me to serve you with joy no matter what my circumstance. Help me love others as you love them. I love you and say, "Yes!" to all you have for me today. In Jesus' name. Amen.