Epaphroditus supplied the lack of “service” to Paul by the Philippians.  Thus, he was a servant.   In the Lord’s ministry, Jesus said the greatest men were his servants [Matt 20:26-28].  From this text, we learn Epaphroditus’ excellent characteristics as a servant.

In most churches today, you will find people in various circles of service approaching the core group of the church.  People on the periphery may look at people on the “inside” as a “clique.”  Truthfully, calling the core group a clique sounds exclusive and the core group may be exclusive in some churches.  Here that is not the case.  The group is inclusive; would to God all members were so desirous to serve that they found themselves within the core group of the ministry [compare Num 11:25-29].

In commending Epaphroditus, Paul portrayed his service as he became part of Paul’s core group.  The core group of service progresses along these lines:

Service in the Family – “my brother” – notice that Paul didn’t call him “a” brother; he called him “my” brother – you leave the periphery and enter the first “ring” of service when the church you attend is no longer “their” church but “our” church – when you begin to serve and the folks with whom you serve become your family.

Service in the Faith – “companion in labour” – Paul commends the Thessalonians for their work of faith – our faith should produce work – as James said, “faith without works is dead” – you come closer to the core of service when you become a companion in labour together with your brothers and sisters in Christ – as the saying goes, “What we do, we do together” – your not being “roped into” service; you’re there because you want to be there.

Service in the Fight – “fellowsoldier” – this is when your service goes from laboring in the harvest and in the faith of the word of God to entering the battle – soldiers in the fight of faith [2 Tim 4:7; 1 Tim 1:18; 2 Tim 2:3-4] endure hardness and do not entangle themselves with the affairs of this life – they form a line of defense, fight the Lord’s battles, protect the ministry and refuse to cause casualties by “friendly” fire.

Service to the Flock – “your messenger” – this is when your service takes you very close to the center because you develop a care for the sheep like the pastor does – your heart is involved with the sheep – you are no longer serving or teaching just to convey knowledge; you are ministering.

Service to the Father – “he that ministered to my wants” – we have to be careful with this point, not to express a Catholic doctrine – the term “father” here is used in the same way that Paul expressed to Timothy that he was his “son” in the faith – as Paul expressed to the Corinthians that “though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many ‘fathers’” – as Elisha, who ministered to Elijah said, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof” – as Joshua ministered to Moses who was a “nursing father” to Israel – you arrive at the core of service when your ministry is to the minister – at this point your mindset and heart are identical to the mindset and heart of the pastor – your love for the Lord, for his words, for his sheep and for each other is the same – the closeness of your relationship in the ministry is indescribable with words.

Conclusion: Seek to move from the periphery of service to the center of service as the Lord grows your involvement with your family, your companions in labor and your fellow soldiers to a love and care for the sheep and the shepherd.