After a period of busy silence, I emailed a minister friend to ask what is happening in his life. Among other things, he mentioned that he is now working a second job. He is sorry to lose some study time, but his loss means that the congregation he serves can now have multiple ministers. And that, he opines, helps the whole body function more fully.
* * *
Your second job reminds me of Epaphroditus, as mentioned in Philippians 2:25-30. Your spirit and attitude make me think of Timothy, one of Paul’s favorite gospel trainees, whose virtues the Apostle spells out in this same chapter (2:19-24). Advancing the cause of Jesus Christ is Timothy’s top priority. He regularly demonstrates genuine concern for the welfare of others as he serves in the work of the gospel. Looking out for his own interests ranks somewhere far below. Timothy came easily to Paul’s mind as a model of the humility and unselfish service urged in verses 1-4 of this chapter. Paul illustrates those instructions with the supreme example of the Son of God himself (2:5-11). You, my friend, have lived and are living among the brothers and sisters with the mind of the Savior. Let me describe your situation as I see it by the bright light of the gospel as laid alongside each section or paragraph of Philippians chapter two.
Most likely you have not seen your own reflection in these verses until now because you are not focused on yourself. But believe me, good brother, your picture is all over this particular Bible chapter. By making a principled, intentional choice in this specific matter, you personally obey the admonition of Paul to practice selflessness as a countercultural kingdom value (2:1-4). You follow the example of Jesus our Savior and exalted Lord (2:5-11). You “work out” the fullness of salvation that God “works in” you, bringing to view the beautiful life that God has inherently built into the process for those who serve him in reverence and godly devotion (2:12-13). You illustrate by your own behavior the way each one of us should live within the believing community, and that makes you shine like a star in a dark world (2:14-16).
In short, you add your exemplary life to that of the Apostle Paul himself (2:17-18). You earn for yourself a place in the annals of God’s faithful, sacrificial servants, not behaving like so many—the carnal crowd of clock-watchers, those self-focused “ministers” eager to climb the ladder of success in their clerical profession even if it means climbing over others. No, you ensure yourself a spot in God’s eyes right there alongside such godly men as Timothy (2:19-24). You belong with Epaphroditus in particular, for he also found an extra job to help maximize the effect of the gospel in his immediate circumstances (2:25-30). God bless you, good brother! It is a blessing to know you.