Phil 2:19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with [his] father he served with me in the gospel. 23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. 24 But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly. 25 Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; 26 since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.27 For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. 29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; 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.
Our society has it all upside down when it comes to real life heroes.
Society idolizes, admires, and makes heroes out of selfish, self-serving, egotistic, movie stars, professional athletes, musicians,entertainers, and assorted reality TV stars. These “heroes” only serve themselves and demand respect & million dollar salaries to do so. Tell me, what has Michael Jackson done in order to be exalted as he has been, postmortem. OK, he could sing and dance. How does that make him a hero? How does that make him someone who should be admired and imitated? What about movie stars? They can act, have good looks, and can impersonate other human beings. How does that make them heroes? How about Shaq? He is tall and can dunk a ball through a small hoop. Again, how does that make him a hero. Even when these post-modern “heroes” do acts of charity they seem to do it not to serve others, but to serve themselves and make themselves feel good.
“But what about Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Madonna, etc..., they adopt poor kids” you say in their defense. As you download their image to your screen saver and pick up the latest copy of People magazine.
Is adopting a poor kids, taking them away from their homeland/
family/culture, and placing them into a wealthy, but highly dysfunctional setting (I don’t even dare call it a “Home”) an act of charity? Is letting a nanny raise your adopted kids something to be admired? Was that child adopted to be served unconditionally by a loving parent, or to serve a need within the “movie star” to do something good, feel good, and be accepted as more than a pretty face. Based on their lifestyles, divorce rates, and moral values, I say it’s the latter reason. Or maybe they think that if the do some “good acts” they won’t be judged so harshly when they die. You know, one of those new-age, makes me feel good, karma things they love so much in Hollywood.
So these are our post-modern “heroes.” How sad. The bible gives us a completely different view of what a hero is. See the verse above. Paul, a hero in his own right, describes two men, who should be admired, imitated, and held in esteem, a.k.a. heroes. Why? Paul tells us why. Lets start with Timothy: 1) He is like-minded. Timothy is a disciple of Paul and thereby understands and will be faithful to Paul’s mission. Which is Christ’s mission:
Mat 28:19 Go therefore go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, [even] to the end of the age.
2) Timothy is sincere. Timothy truly cares for the body of Christ (the Church) and the mission. He does not do it out of ulterior motives, such as fame, power, or money. Timothy is a willing servant. Serving out of desire and not out of expectation. 3) Timothy, is not self-serving. Timothy willingly and gladly serves others, and always puts the needs of others before his own. Timothy does this, not to feel good about himself, but to advance the mission, win the good fight, and proclaim the gospel. 4) Timothy is a man of good character who can be trusted as a son. Paul can trust Timothy to the point that he can send him to the Philippians as his representative. As an ambassador that will correctly and appropriately represent him. Think about how important this is, Timothy’s actions and behavior will positively or negatively affect Paul’s ministry in Philippi. Paul is putting his whole reputation on Timothy’s shoulders. Thereby, Timothy as a faithful servant must die to self and act as Paul would. Which is like Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
Lets move on to Epaphroditus. 1) Paul calls him his brother, a fellow worker, and fellow soldier. Only trustworthy, faithful, committed men can be called such things. Obviously, not only was Epaphroditus a brother in Christ, but Paul seems to regard him as one would regard a blood brother. Kind of like a big brother watches out for his little brother, out pure of love, with no ulterior motive, other than to preserve the well being and safety of your loved one. Based on his actions, I believe it is safe to assume that Epaphroditus also loved and cared for Paul as a brother. 2) Epaphroditus ministered to Paul’s needs. Epaphroditus unselfishly risked his life, health, freedom, and safety to serve Paul’s needs. His actions had nothing to do with his personal needs, or wants, he just wanted to serve faithfully. I can only assume that Epaphroditus was so thankful to Paul for his salvatio(through Jesus Christ) that he was willing to give up his life to serve him in a time of need. 3) Epaphroditus was caring. He longed for his friends and family, not because he missed them, or needed them, but because did not want them to be distressed and suffer because they had heard that he was sick. Even while being “sick almost unto death” he cared more for their well-being than his own. 4) Epaphroditus, because of his work for Christ, came close to death and he never regarded his own life. All to serve a man of God and assist him in the advancement of the gospel.
Paul tells the Philippians to receive Epaphroditus in the Lord with all gladness. To basically thank him for his selfless dedication to advancing the good news. And to hold men like Timothy and Epaphroditus in esteem. The word esteem, similarly to the hero, means to have high regard for a person or to admire someone for their courage or outstanding achievements. We admire/esteem athletes, musicians, actors, even politicians. But can we truly say that they deserve our esteem. Have they come close to death in serving others? Have they truly, placed the welfare and well being of others above their needs and wants. Are they willing to sacrifice themselves for a brother? Doubt it. Therefore, lets use Paul’s definition of what a hero is and esteem the brave men and women who have selflessly dedicated their lives to serve others, specially those who advance the Gospel and the good news of our Lord and King, Jesus Christ.