Who was Epaphroditus? Was he a great preacher, an eloquent speaker, a very gifted brother? We are not told. But this we are told, powerfully and touchingly: he was one who exhibited a lovely spirit of self-surrender. This is better than all the gifts, eloquence, power and learning that could possibly be concentrated in any one individual. Epaphroditus was one of that illustrious class who seeks to make nothing of self; and, as a consequence, the apostle Paul spares no pains to exalt him. But what did this remarkable man do? Did he spend a princely fortune in the cause of Christ? We are not told. But what we are told is far better: he spent himself. This is the grand point for us to seize and ponder.
Philippians 2:26 says, “He was longing for you all, and was distressed.” Why? Was it because he was sick? Because of his pains, aches and lacks? Nothing of the sort. The only thing that affected him in his illness was the thought of how it would affect others. This honored servant of Christ had brought himself to death’s door to serve others. And when there, instead of being occupied with himself and his ailments, he was thinking of the sorrow of others!
Now mark the tender words of Paul: “Receive him therefore … and hold such men in esteem.” Why? Was it because of his gifts, rank or wealth? No! It was because of his self-surrender. Let us learn from Epaphroditus.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: C. H. Mackintosh (1820-1896) was an Irish preacher, Bible teacher and prolific writer of commentaries on the Bible. He was active in the Irish revival of 1859-1860. For 40 years he also edited a monthly magazine, “Things New and Old.”
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org