Bible Study Lessons

The Kind of Person God Honors

Introduction

Two centuries ago a group of European pastors came to speak at a conference organized by the famous evangelist D. L. Moody. The night of their arrival they all put their boots outside of their doors, as was the custom in Europe at that time, expecting that the hall staff would polish them overnight. The only problem was there was no hall staff in the United States. As Moody was checking that everything was settled for the night, he noticed all the shoes. Determined not to embarrass these men, he mentioned the problem to some of the students. None of them showed interest in the project, so Moody gathered up all the shoes himself and took them to his room. Alone in his room that night, Moody set to polishing each pair of shoes. Only the unexpected arrival of a friend revealed the secret. When we learn of stories like these, we instantly recognize that it takes a great man to be willing to serve without recognition. In Philippians 2:25-30 God tells us about a man like that named Epaphroditus whom God called out for special honor. Study today's passage to learn more about the kind of people God honors and how to be one of them.

Observation

Pray

God doesn't expect us to understand and apply His Word on our own, He wants to help us understand it. Pray and ask Him to give you clear understanding and wisdom from the passage you'll study today.

Read Focus Verses

Read Philippians 2:25-30 and see what it says about this man, Epaphroditus.

The Story

In your own words, tell the story of what happened as it is related in today's passage.

Context

Read Philippians 2:17-24 to understand today's passage more fully.

Described

How does Paul describe Epaphroditus in verse 25?

Rome

Why had Epaphroditus been in Rome with Paul?

Necessary

Why did Paul feel it was necessary to send Epaphroditus back to Philippi?

Mercy

What do these verses say about God's mercy for His people?

Sorrow

Even though Paul loved having Epaphroditus with him, he wanted more for him to go back to Philippi. Why does he say that is?

Receive

How were they to receive Epaphroditus when he came back to them?

Honor

What had Epaphroditus done that displayed the kind of character God honors?

Keyword - Honor

God tells us to hold in high regard and honor people like Epaphroditus. Marking this keyword will help it stand out to you.

Honor

Respect

Mark the word reputation or honor in Philippians 2:29.

Interpretation

Epaphroditus

In Philippians 4:14-19 we read again about Epaphroditus' work for Paul on behalf of the church of Philippi.

Character

What kind of charcter and reputation must Epaphroditus have had to have been selected by his church to take a gift across a continent to the Apostle Paul?

Adopted

Consider Ephesians 1:3-6 in light of Paul calling Epaphroditus his brother.

Sons

1 John 3:1-2 also speaks of this wonderful truth that God makes those He saves His children.

Brothers

If someone were to ask you why Christians speak of one another as brothers and sisters, how could you answer them?

Laboring Together

Notice how 1 Corinthians 3:8-9 expands on the thought of Christians being companions in labor.

Partnership

With whom are Christians ultimately partnering in labor?

Companions

How does working together for the same goal draw Christians like Paul and Epaphroditus closer together?

Soldiers of Christ

Scripture often uses the analogy of warfare to describe the Christian life. Notice one of these instances in 2 Timothy 2:3-4.

A Good Warfare

1 Timothy 1:18 speaks again of this similarity.

Spiritual Battle

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 speaks of our weapons in this spiritual fight.

War

Why is the analogy of warfare used to describe the Christian life?

Soldiers

Soldiers share a special comradery, what are some similarities between that and the relationship between Christians who are on the spiritual frontlines together?

What Kind?

Thinking of all three of these analogies together, we realize that Paul felt very encouraged by and close to Epaphroditus. What kind of man must Epaphroditus have been to be so likeminded to Paul?

Messenger

This man of sterling character was primarily a messenger. Sometimes we think of that role as below the best people, but in Scripture the opposite is presented. The word angel means messenger. Notice what Proverbs 25:13 says about a faithful messenger.

Minister

We are told that Epaphroditus ministered to Paul as a servant. Matthew 20:28 tells us whose example he was following.

Servant

In John 13:3-17 we learn that Epaphroditus' willingness to serve was a large part of the reason God said he was worthy of honor.

Roles

How does the description of Epaphroditus and his roles challenge our culture's view of leadership and honor?

Longing

Just as Paul says Epaphroditus was longing to see these believers in Philippi again so too was Paul in Philippians 1:8.

Loved and Longed For

In Philippians 4:1 we see this theme again.

Greatly Desired

What are some reasons Christians who are living in obedience and faith so greatly desire to see one another?

One More Piece

We are told one more thing about Epaphroditus in this passage. He was deathly ill, and yet even in that condition he was still more concerned about fulfilling his duty and serving Paul than about himself. How would you put that kind of faithfulness at such a weak point into words?

On Me Also

We learn from Paul's example in verse 27 that it is good to thank God for His kindness to us even in the middle of His kindness to others. John 16:27 reminds us that God loves each of His people individually. It is good to recognize His personal kindness to us.

Never too Much

We see an example of Isaiah 43:2 in today's passage - God will never give us more than we can handle.

Second Command

In Matthew 22:37-40 we learn what God declares is the second greatest commandment.

Love

What is the second greatest commandment?

Displayed

How is Paul an example of loving his neighbor as himself in verse 28 when he says that he would find more comfort in knowing they were glad to see Epaphroditus again than in keeping Epaphroditus with himself even though he enjoyed his company so much?

With Gladness

What might it look like to receive someone with gladness?

Those Who Honor God

1 Samuel 2:30 tells us who God will honor.

Before Honor is Humility

Proverbs 15:33 ties more of the themes of this passage together with its linking of humility and honor.

Living Clean

In 2 Timothy 2:19-22 we learn how a person can prepare themselves to be like Epaphroditus - a person God can honor.

Like Him

In verse 29 we are told to honor people like Epaphroditus. What characteristics should you look for in those you honor based on what is highlighted about Epaphroditus in Scripture?

More Important than Life

In Philippians 1:12-21 show us that, like Epaphroditus, Paul considered doing the work of Christ more important than preserving his life.

The Things of Christ

Philippians 2:19-22 shows us an example of another man, Timothy, who also put the work of Christ about his own interests.

In Your Words

How can you describe this kind of attitude in your own words?

One for All

All of the Philippian believers weren't able to go visit Paul in Rome. Instead they contributed to a gift and sent Epaphroditus as their representative according to verse 30 in today's passage. When we look at Philippians 4:17-18 we see that all of them received eternal reward for their part.

Representatives

How does Epaphroditus' attitude as a representative of his church demonstrate further the humility that God honors?

Summary

What kind of person does God want us to honor?

Application

Honorable

Based on today's study, what areas of your life do you need to change in order to become the kind of person God honors?

Personal Thanksgiving

Is there a situation from your life that comes to mind in which most of the world saw God's kindness to another person, but you know that His action was also so kind to you? Take a minute to remember what He did for you and thank Him.

Wrapup

Closing

We hope this study has helped you understand what kind of person God honors and wants you to honor, and has challenged you to be a person God can honor.

Feedback

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