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Epaphroditus:  A Loud Walker

"One man's trash is another man's treasure" is an adage we hear quite often. The popularity of "yard sales" and "junk stores" and "antique shops" remind us that beautiful, valuable things can sometimes be found in out of the way and unexpected places. Such is the case in a little noted Christian in the New Testament named Epaphroditus (pronounced ep-af-rod'-ee-tos). Now there's a name you don't hear every day. It means "devoted to Aphrodite" or "favored by Aphrodite." You may recognize the name Aphrodite. She was the Greek mythological goddess of love. This leads some Bible students to surmise Epaphroditus was a Gentile convert, since it is seems unlikely a devoted Jewish couple would have named their child after a prominent pagan goddess. Whatever the case, Epaphroditus serves as a powerful example of what being a Christian is all about. He shows up only twice in the New Testament, both from the pen of the apostle Paul – the first time in Philippians 2:25-30 and the second in Philippians 4:18. The few words recorded about him are found in these seven scant verses. But they contain a real spiritual treasure! They reveal Epaphroditus to be a model every child of God could imitate to his/her own spiritual benefit as well as to the benefit of the church. Consider three of the verses from Philippians 2 where Paul gives this obscure but wonderful brother in Christ a glowing commendation: "Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need .... Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me (verses 25, 29-30). Read that again. Epaphroditus didn't get much ink or space in Paul's writings, but he clearly impressed Paul, and he occupied a big place in the peerless apostle's heart.

Epaphroditus was the real deal. He did not merely "go to church" and "warm a pew." He did not defme or confine his service to God to what he did in a church building. He was not just a consumer and critic of sermons. He was not simply "a member of the church" in Philippi," but was actively involved in ministering. We don't know when or where he was baptized or by whom. We do not know if he was a deacon or an elder or preacher or teacher. We do know he had proven himself to be of great value and service to the apostle Paul and to the cause of Christ. D. L. Moody once said, "Lighthouses don't fire canons to call attention to their shining — they just shine." Epaphroditus did his part to dispel the darkness, not by cursing it but by shining the light of Christian example and influence. He reminds us that "Your talk talks and your walk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks!" Epaphroditus walked loud! He let his Christian walk do the talking. Don't miss Paul's directive to the church about the Epaphroditus's among us (those actually doing the work of Christ, whether leaders or followers) — 'hold such men in esteem" (and women, we should add). How loud is your walk talking? Think about it.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ