You may not want to name any of your children after him*, but there’s a man mentioned in the book of Philippians, named Epaphroditus. We don’t know a lot about him, but what we do know might give us some ideas how to serve others.
Starting with the second reference to Epaphroditus in Philippians, we find that he served as something of a delivery man, bringing a gift from the church in Philippi (the recipients of what we call the Biblical book of Philippians, which was actually written as a letter) to Paul (the author of that letter).
But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.
Philippians 4:18 NASB
Whatever gift or supplies Epaphroditus brought, it was special to Paul. He knew who the delivery had come from, and called it out as a sacrifice. Whether the church in Philippi were giving from poverty, or whether the act of generosity itself was pleasing to God (or both), Paul made it clear that this was a meaningful action. (See Hebrews 13:15-16 for other kinds of sacrifices that we can make.)
Earlier in the book of Philippians, we find that Paul was now sending Epaphroditus back to those in Philippi:
But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need;
Philippians 2:25 NASB
For more details, read all of Philippians 2:25-30, and see how highly Paul spoke of Epaphroditus, as well as the fact that he wasn’t just sending a delivery guy back to the “home office”, but his return was actually for a good cause.
There are a lot of people mentioned in the Bible – some across many chapters; others only being mentioned once or twice. Some people recorded in the Bible did things that we should emulate (although each of them except Jesus was imperfect), while other people named in the Bible serve as a warning of what not to do.
If your job is making deliveries (whether packages, pizzas, or Porsches), you might appreciate finding a reference to your job in the Bible. It can be honorable work, especially when done in the spirit that Colossians 3:23-24 suggests. However, there are a lot of us who may also fill that same role – a delivery person – in the Kingdom of God, but not realize it.
For example: In my church, there is a clothing ministry (like many others in churches throughout the county, and throughout the world). Volunteers help sort donations, hang them up for display, work with those in need, and fold them up neatly before our customers take home the clothes that they need (for free). These volunteers don’t purchase or donate the majority of clothes in this ministry (although some are touched by the impact that they see, and offer a few contributions of their own). Instead, the primary role of these volunteers is to pass along the kindness of others to those in need…not unlike Epaphroditus.
You may find yourself in a role like the church in Philippi (providing for others’ needs), like Epaphroditus (delivering help from those who share to those who have needs), or like Paul (those in need of a blessing). Or, you may fill all of these roles, either simultaneously, or over the seasons of life. In any case, I hope that you find joy in being a part of God’s provision to those He loves, through His people.
For more reading, see:
- Seriously, don’t name your kid after Epaphroditus. It’s a variant of the false goddess Aphrodite (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epaphroditus), who is not really someone our children should imitate or worship. God can use anyone, though, even if they start out with obstacles in their way – like being named after a false deity.