Have you ever read a book and then stopped paying attention a few–or more–pages back? Your mind is going through the task of reading, but you’re not absorbing what the words are actually saying. This section of scripture is one that you could easily sweep by before moving on to Chapter 3. Let’s look at Paul’s writing: what God can teach us through these words?
Paul is writing a letter, and he is explaining part of the plan and what is next for the people of Philippi. He hopes to send Timothy soon [v. 19], but then decides that Epaphroditus [v. 24] will be the one returning to Philippi, after they had sent him to care for Paul.
You might be asking “why is any of this information important?”
There is something that happens when you write things down the old fashioned way: with a piece of paper and pen. Sentences seem to be formed differently than when you type. Stories tend to hit the paper in a way that strays from email. Remember, Paul is writing a letter.
He is living out community. He is living out the gospel message. He isn’t staying silent, and he’s being very clear about decisions and plans. If we look at verses 26 and 27, Paul even takes time to clarify that Epaphroditus was indeed ill and close to death, as the people of Philippi had heard. He is taking time to explain his choices, so that wrong information doesn’t have a place to grow. Paul doesn’t want there to be confusion even in the simplest of plans–some might call it over communication, but I’m not sure that’s possible. Paul cares deeply for the church in Philippi, and that is so evident in this section.
- Just for fun: say “Epaphroditus.” Now say it three times as fast as you can. Now laugh. God likes when we laugh.
- All too often we stay silent and choose isolation. What can we learn from Paul’s constant encouragement to be in community and unity with one another through Christ?
- Put down your phone. Close your computer. Find a pen and a piece of paper. We live in a world that is fast-paced and full of instant gratification. Write a letter. You chose who you’re writing it to, but take the time to encourage someone. To love someone. To break that silence, and use your voice to love.