Calling the Twelve to Him, He began to send them out two by two...
But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.
When Paul was jailed in Rome, Epaphroditus risked his life to help him. 'Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends' (John 15:13). He preferred Paul's life to his own. Even so, God spared Epaphroditus, and Paul sent him home to the Philippian church with great commendation.
For early Christians, fellowship was the rule of the day.* Paul was a church planter and team builder. His goal was growing partnerships with 'Fellow workers' (Romans 16:3), 'Fellow citizens' (Ephesians 2:19) and 'Fellow heirs' (Ephesians 3:6) in Christ.
Because the 'Fellowship of His Son' (1 Corinthians 1:9) was a 'Fellowship of the Spirit' (Philippians 2:1) and a 'Fellowship in the Gospel' (Philippians 1:5).
Because 'Two are better than one... For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart' (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
Because in partnerships (with God first and your brethren second), you will find strength, support and success.
Also because our world is fractured. And if God's church is fractured, how can we help? Therein, rise above denominational difference and focus on the most important uniting Bond: faith in Jesus Christ.
'Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching' (Hebrews 10:24-25).
## Passionate! Like Paul: Partnerships (Part 16)
NOTE: This series is a republished edit of a 2015 series called, 'Paul's Powerful Priorities.' In these devotions, you may see notes to 'Actors, Models & Talent for Christ.' I have not changed this designation. Because in a greater sense, every disciple of Christ acts for Christ, models Christ and stewards His talents, from which God expects a profit.
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Passionate! Like Paul series.