Honor and Respect

Phil. 2:25   Still, I think it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus—my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier, your messenger and minister to my need; 26 for he has been longing for all of you, and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 He was indeed so ill that he nearly died. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, so that I would not have one sorrow after another. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, in order that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy, and honor such people, 30 because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for those services that you could not give me.


Epaphroditus had been ministering to Paul, but while doing so had become very ill. Paul was now sending him back home to Philippi and wanted the people there to receive him home with gratitude for the things he had done for the gospel. 

This statement about Epaphroditus comes at the end of the second chapter where Paul has been talking about the importance of imitating Christ. Then, he finishes by telling about this man who risked his life for the work of Christ. In many ways this man’s life was a living illustration of what he had been writing about. The people were to honor and respect this man who had risked his very life to minister to Paul and be a humble servant leader, doing what others had been unable to do. Those who imitate the self-emptying activity of Christ are those who are to be honored. 


As we filed into the Sanctuary for the funeral of Dr. Ed Robinson, I noticed the front and center location of the towel and basin. This symbol of servant leadership was what dominated his life. For days testimonies had been written on social media regarding the impact of this man. His reach was far and yet his demeanor always humble. His life demonstrated what it meant to honor those who have given of themselves in servant-leadership for the lives of others. Some of us lamented whether he had ever realized or heard so many good words about his reach while he was alive because, more than likely, he had not. We tend to save up those words and only share them when the person is gone. This is not what the Apostle Paul was suggesting.

Every day we pass by those who have demonstrated servant leadership and I’m afraid that we may simply take them for granted. Just the other day a dear woman from a church where we previously pastored died while preparing the funeral dinner for another woman at church. Ruth was a servant-leader. She was willing to do so much for the other people around her. She loved her family, the church, and so much of life. She is one of those that you wanted to celebrate.

I sat in my parents living room for a brief period of time on Saturday. They are growing more and more feeble and the conversations are a little more difficult, but they continue to radiate the love of Jesus. Their concerns are always for the rest of us. They want to know where we are and what we are doing, and how they can pray for us this day. Their devotional time both in the morning and the evening becomes the focus of the day. I know that they are in prayer and lifting up many needs and burdens to the Father. Sitting in their presence I wanted to show them honor and respect for they have sacrificed much on the behalf of others. 

Today we will cross paths with those who have been quiet, gentle, servant-leaders. Those who have gone before and have served, making it possible for us to serve. Ed Robinson opened up a special program at Nazarene Theological Seminary making it possible for me to attend from Russia. I would not have gone to Seminary, had it not been for him. Ruth York modeled a life filled with incredible joy in service to the Lord. My parents have been examples in ministering and praying for others. May my eyes be open to an Epaphroditus that I may see today and may I respond with honor and respect, a heart filled with gratitude for the things that they have been willing to do in kingdom service. 


Lord, thank you for the reminder that there are those who have served faithfully. They are the living illustrations of your word that you have provided. I am very grateful and I ask that you will help me to honor and respect theses people, just as you would.  Amen.


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