In the Workplace, Learn from Epaphroditus

A man works in a conpany.
A man works in a conpany.
By Abigail WuJuly 21st, 2020

Recently, in the Wechat account “Morning Prayer”, Pastor Zhang Zhongqiu gave the last sermon in the series “Victory in the Workplace”, with the title, “Epaphroditus was an Ordinary Person but He was not MAediocre,” based on Philippians 2: 25-30.

During that time the Apostle Paul was imprisoned in the city of Rome and confined to his rented home. He was allowed to live by himself, but with a soldier to guard him. He could not go out but others could bring in things he needed. Knowing that it was difficult for Paul to pay for daily meals and to rent a house, the Philippians sent Epaphroditus to take money to him and take care of Paul’s daily life. Although his work was seemingly unimportant, he was recognized by Paul for his great dedication.

Pastor Zhang shared the following four points and taught us how an ordinary worker could make a great contribution.

Epaphroditus had a spirit of devotion.

In those days, it took about two months to walk from Rome to Philippi, a distance of 1170 kilometers. It was not an easy journey as they had to walk over mountains and take a boat to Rome. There was a lot of risk in going to help someone who was under house arrest. So the person who took money to this place must have a spirit of devotion. Epaphroditus supported Paul’s daily life and took care of him when he was ill. By serving Paul, he was indirectly involved in Paul’s ministry. 

“Christians should know that in life there is no such thing as a lone ranger. God asks brothers and sisters to work together around one center. The primary and secondary work we do are all the Lord’s work.

Epaphroditus was recognized by God, Paul’s good helper, and fellow worker.

But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. (Philippians 2:25)

Paul was a learned and experienced apostle who founded the Philippian Church and suffered a lot for God. He could have gloried in his high status, but he acknowledged and praised Epaphroditus, saying, “He is my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier.” He accepted Epaphroditus as his brother, not just a co-worker, but first of all as a brother. Epaphroditus also served him with a humble heart. Though seeing Paul was down and out, in prison,  without money and fallen from his previous high status and fame, he did not talk down to Paul.

Epaphroditus was a great help to Paul, and Paul was also a great spiritual inspiration to Epaphroditus. This was really valuable. You should be humble with your colleagues at work. No matter how talented you are, you should respect others who are less skilled. When evangelizing in the workplace, if others recognize your character, they may be willing to talk with you further. To be recognized is also a testimony for Jesus.

Epaphroditus served the Lord regardless of his life.

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 had 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. Because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me. (Philippians 2:30)

Because Paul had appealed to Caesar, he was under house arrest, living in his rented house. If Paul was convicted and beheaded, maybe Epaphroditus would also be beheaded. So Epaphroditus was risking his life to serve Paul for Christ’s sake. On the one hand, he was brave enough to send money, on the other hand, he worked as hard as he could to support Paul in Rome. But Epaphroditus was not accustomed to Rome, became so sick that he almost died, and missed his home very much. Thankfully, God had mercy on him and healed him.

Honor Epaphroditus.

So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him. (Philippians 2:29)

Epaphroditus returned to the church in Philippi with the letter written by Paul. Paul said you should welcome him with great joy and honor him without blame. Although Epaphroditus was supposed to serve Paul till he was released from prison, he had done so much, therefore he should be honored.

Paul had great regard for his fellow worker. When he saw Epaphroditus was sick and homesick, he immediately let him go back home once he was healed. Instead of considering his own needs, he cared for his fellow worker first when finding he was in need.

God has given each of us different gifts and talents and demands different things for each of us. How can we meet God’s demands? To one he gives five talents, to another two talents and to another one talent. God demands five talents from the one who gets five, two who gets two, and one who gets one. How much has God given us? How much can we get by using it?

Don’t think that you are just an ordinary person in the workplace. An ordinary person can influence an extraordinary person. A young girl taken captive from Israel brought good news and healed Commander Naaman’s leprosy.

-Translated by Abigail Wu

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