Are you one of those people who tries to take care of everyone else? An encourager, cheerleader, spouter of celebration? As one encourager to another, I find it easy to become overwhelmed. Sometimes you pour so much of yourself out in caring for others, that you find yourself dry, empty and in need of filling.
As I contemplate the condition of Paul during the time he is writing Philippians, I can only image that he too often needed filling. There he sat in prison for doing good. For committing to the furtherance of the gospel, he was locked away. All the while, he writes encouraging us to “Do all things without complaining and disputing…”(Philippians 1:14) He has told us to be humble, to obey God and to allow Him to work in us. He even goes on telling us that we are to “…shine as lights in the world…”(Philippians 1:15) But how did Paul find the encouragement himself to live in this manner?
We must first remember that Paul, who once was Saul, had a life changing experience many years before this on that fateful road to Damascus. He encountered a filling my the Holy Spirit that changed him completely. It was then that Paul went from persecutor of those who worshiped Christ to being persecuted for exactly that. So yes, Paul had a filling by the Holy Spirit that changed him. He had another advantage that allowed him to be a messenger for God evangelizing the country of Macedonia. That advantage was Epaphroditus.
Epaphroditus, also known as Epaphras was a treasure to Paul. He was, “my brother, fellow worker, and fellow solider, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need.”(Philippians 2:25) He was Paul’s best friend, fellow warrior for Christ, and greatest of all, the one who ministered to Paul.
Don’t we all need someone to minister to us? Someone who is more spiritually mature, and who is willing to walk both before and beside us as we do our best to do the will of God. Do you have an Epaphras? Who is that person in your life who changed you? Who led you down the path of seeing, knowing and believing that living in Christ is the only way to live? For me, it was my Grandmother. She was a minister to me, caring for my physical needs and the occasional emotional need as well. What she did greater than anything was care for my spiritual needs. If it were not for all that she did in my life, I’d be walking dead right now. Walking in spiritual lostness, with an empty and broken soul never to be filled by the eternal living water.
Paul prayed for Epaphras. He admired him, loved him, and wanted God to care for him. Paul saw Epaphras as the bearer of the good news, and encouraged others to openly embrace him. Did you think about who your Epaphras once was or currently is? Maybe you had several. Who is that one person who made the biggest influence in your Christian life? Once you have that person’s name in mind, I encourage you to reach out to them. Paul let Epaphras know how loved he was, and how desperately he needed him in his life. From one encourager to another, words like that from someone who you encouraged are so incredibly valuable. Both spiritually and emotionally.
Don’t let another day go by without thanking the person who has made the greatest impact in your life. Fill them up so that they can be prepared to fill others.