Fellow Family Members
Read Philippians 2:25-27 (ESV)
I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
In what ways is the church like a family?
My wife and I have three boys. As we raise them, we are trying to be intentional in teaching them the value of family. We want them to understand the gift that they have in each other and we pray that they will have meaningful relationships with each other even after they grow up and leave our house.
In today’s passage, Paul shares how much he values a man he considers to be his spiritual brother, Epaphroditus. Epaphroditus had been sent to Paul with a love offering of financial support from the Philippian church. But he became seriously sick and nearly died of his illness. Paul wrote that he wanted to send Epaphroditus back to them because the Philippians had been worried about him and Epaphroditus had been worried that they were worried! Doesn’t that sound like a family? In his description of Epaphroditus, Paul shows us how our brothers and sisters in Christ can function like a family.
First, thriving families work together for a common goal. Spouses have different roles but work together to help each other manage the household. Parents teach their children to help out with chores around the house. Families share the load. Paul could not do the Lord’s work by himself. He counted on his brothers and sisters in Christ to work alongside him. Paul called Epaphroditus his “fellow worker” because he faithfully offered his service to others for the sake of the Gospel, even when he was deathly ill.
Second, families defend each other and the family name. We fight for the same side. Big brothers don’t allow bullies to pick on their siblings. Sisters squelch gossip about their family members as soon as it starts. And no one tolerates jokes about their mamas! As believers, our family name is Christian. We bear Christ’s name. Paul said that Epaphroditus was a “fellow soldier.” We know that as Christians we are engaged in a battle against the forces of this world. But we aren’t fighting this battle alone! Our brothers and sisters in Christ are fighting right beside us. We are here to defend each other and fight the good fight for the glory of His name.
Finally, families are concerned about each other and take care of each other. If someone is sick, the family steps in. If someone has a need, the family ensures that it is met. If someone is emotionally upset, the family provides support. Paul said that Epaphroditus was a “minister to my need.” Even with his own problems, Epaphroditus was concerned about Paul’s needs. He was also looking out for the welfare of his home church in Philippi. When they were worried about him, he was worried about them! He longed to go to them to comfort them and relieve the burden they felt for him. Additionally, Paul was extremely grateful that God had spared Epaphroditus’ life because the loss of his brother would have brought him immense grief.
Friends, I know that not everyone has experienced this level of care and concern within their flesh and blood families. But if we are in Christ, we are in His family! We are a “household of faith” (Galatians 6:10) and “if one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all members rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Epaphroditus and Paul have shown us how we are to love, care, and support one another. In Christ, you are my fellow family member.
Lord, thank You for the gift of family, both blood relatives and spiritual family members can be such a blessing. Help me to love and support the family that You have given me for the glory of the family name—Your name! Amen.