Life Link Devotional
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
My brother Paul and I were very close in age – only 15 months apart – but we were never really close in relationship until the summer after I graduated from high school. Paul and I decided to become partners in a painting business to paint barns, farm buildings, and houses in rural North Dakota. I think we even painted a fence or two. It was hot work, and it was scary work because of the height of some of the barns, and I don’t like being up high on a shaky ladder.
Prior to that summer, I knew that my brother Paul was always there to help me if I needed it and that I would do the same for him; but it was as we worked together for a common goal that things changed in our relationship. In fact, the following year, when he graduated from high school, he called me at college to ask if he could be my roommate for the following year. That was really cool! Being a brother is one thing, but working together as brothers adds a new and more fulfilling dimension to the relationship.
This week we are studying the life of Epaphroditus based on the Apostle Paul’s description of him in Philippians 2:25-30. Yesterday we described his life as a brother to the believers and especially to Paul. To be a brother is the beginning step in becoming a complete follower of Jesus Christ. The next step is to become a worker, and Paul describes Epaphroditus as his “fellow worker”, which is the translation of a single Greek word meaning “to labor together for a common goal.” Paul’s relationship with Epaphroditus was more than just brothers who would respond to a need; it was a relationship of shared work motivated by a spiritual objective and solidified by mutual trust and respect. They had grown beyond friendship and had become interdependent upon one another for the accomplishment of God’s purpose.
Our relationships within the body of Christ need to grow to this point of maturity. So many of our friendships with other Christians are just surface acquaintances, but lack the depth of trust and respect because we have not come together to accomplish a common goal. As followers of Jesus and fellow workers with other Christians, we are to band together to accomplish God’s purpose. We are motivated by our love Jesus, our love for each other, and the knowledge that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Years ago we had young couple in our church going through a very difficult time because of some serious medical issues with their 6-day-old baby. Another couple in our church sent me an email to deliver to the hurting parents as they watched over their baby at the Mayo hospital in Rochester, MN. The names have been changed to protect their humble spirits, but you can clearly see the hearts of two people who have grown beyond being just “brothers” and have become “fellow workers.”
Hey, thanks so much, Pastor, for the sending out the update on Ben and Helen and baby Mary. Listen, would you do me a huge favor? This whole thing has been very difficult on my wife as she and Helen have become close over the last months, and Ben and I have been developing a close friendship as well.
Would you just take a big hug and our thoughts to them when you go over there today? Tell them we love them so much and we are praying for them and the baby. Tell them that we would like to come out and see them soon but know that they need to be with each other and family right now. Also, tell them that if they need anything….meals, money, someone to come over and do laundry or clean their house, we are there for them. Thanks so much PJ. I know this would mean a lot to my wife and it does me as well.
We Love you Ben and Helen. Give Mary a big kiss from us when you can.
Lovingly, The Andersons
That’s what Epaphroditus was to Paul. That’s what we all should be to one another. Move beyond being a brother, and become a fellow worker. Get involved in living out the love of Jesus by laboring with and for one another as fellow workers.
May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20 – 21)