“25 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. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 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. 28 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. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 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 2.25-30
What brings you joy? Have you ever made a list of things that bring you joy? Take a moment to pause from this reading and write about five areas in your life about which you can be joyful. (Take a minute to do this now.)
My joy list: 1) Eternal security of going to heaven when I die and seeing Jesus face to face, 2) Spending time with family, 3) Doing significant work for the Kingdom of God, 4) Exercising and doing activities I love like taking care of dogs and ranch animals, 5) Having coffee in the morning!
In Paul’s letter with the Philippians he mentions returning Epaphroditus to them. Epaphroditus was as co-laborer with the Lord and suffered much. He almost died (v.27) but the Lord saved his life and spared Paul much sorry. Paul is sending Epaphroditus back to the Philippians for mutual encouragement and is asking the church to receive him with ”great joy.” Epaphroditus, says Paul, ”risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.” Paul is asking the church to receive him “with great joy” as well as other ministers/disciples (I presume) who are like him.
Even while in prison, Paul is encouraging fellow believers to great one another with joy. With ”great” joy. This is an encouragement to me to live in the joy of the moment that the Lord has given. Even when evil battles against our world and the enemy appears to be gaining ground, we must have joy in the Lord. As Nehemiah 8:10 says, ”Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
My encouragement to you is to be filled with joy and receive everyone you meet ”with great joy.” That we would watch less of what the world throws our way in terms of social media, TV and movies, and spend more time in His Word seeking His will for our lives. For the joy of the Lord is our strength.
“O Lord God, come now, Holy Spirit. Fill us with your power and love. Help us know the strength of your love and the joy that exists and surpasses the evil in this world. You have the final victory. You have won the battle. I love you Lord and praise your name. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen