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Honour the Brave

Philippians 2:29-30
Welcome him [Epahroditus] in the Lord with great joy, and honour men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me. (NIV)

Brave people should be honoured. Those who put their own life on the line to save others are wonderful examples of selfless courage in the face of danger. Of course, not all risky activities are 'brave' in that sense. Some extreme sports are simply foolhardy. Their goal is death-defying personal achievement: it is essentially selfish (although we like those sorts of role models, and honour them too). But those whose personal risk saved another's life, ought to be highly commended.

Paul was no stranger to danger. 2 Cor 6:4-10 and 2 Cor 11:22-33 detail his extraordinary lifestyle of beatings, shipwrecks, hunger, and imprisonment as he lived under suspicion and threats. He went through it all to preach the gospel, establish Jesus-communities and rescue souls from the grip of hell. Others were strongly motivated to be a part of that missionary movement of people, including Epaphroditus. He had travelled from Greece to Rome bringing gifts from the church, and was eager to help Paul in gospel ministry. He like, many Christian missionary workers subsequently, almost died from disease. But his loyalty and desire was to see Jesus welcomed into hearts, homes and communities - so he felt the risk was well worth taking.

Who do you know who risks their life for the sake of Jesus and His Kingdom? Do you? Or are we somehow conditioned to avoid risk at all costs. Today, around the world, more people than ever before are being persecuted for their faith. They may not be high profile ministers, but they have the gospel-desire of a 'Paul' and the sacrificial care of an 'Epaphroditus'. Many never become a statistic, but they bravely continue to love, worship and serve Jesus even when their workplace despises them, their communities ignore them and their families disown them. Others travel, in response to God's call, encountering all sorts of difficulties while deprived of familiar comforts, friends and family. Many still fall ill, while some have accidents and some die. Paul's advice to believers is to find these people, honour them, look after them and support them in whatever way we can.

Gracious God. You have been so kind to me, and yet I confess that I dislike stepping outside my comfort-zone, even for Your sake. Give me a heart for the 'lost' and a compassion for Your servants in need, so that I will dare to risk more for Your sake and the gospel's. And please set a special duty of honour into my heart - to respect and support those who serve faithfully in Your Name. For Christ's sake. Amen
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© Dr Paul Adams