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People need hope more than ever. As followers of Jesus, we have this promise in Colossians 1:27.....Listen to Radio Podcast featured on Moody Radio April 17 2024 

Friday-Return Deposit

 

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.

 

Philippians 2:25,26

 

I don’t know if it was because of my parents, or it was something in the water, but I grew up always looking for ways to make money. I wasn’t motivated by the idea of money, but I always, always, always wanted more money. Getting more money and getting it faster was at the top of my priority list.

 

I’d do anything to put some money in my pockets. Even work. I’d cut the grass. Rake leaves. Pick pears off the tree and from the ground for my mom to make pear sauce and pear pies. I’d even pickup those evil Monkey Balls[1] with their devious, sharp spikes that were designed to stick in the grass and inflict pain. Inside my head, there was an equation about money running around in my brain. The calculation went something like this; get the most amount of money with the least amount of work, in the least amount of time. The result was to look for the fast buck without any work.

 

One of my favorite ways to earn money was to collect soda bottles. You got two cents for each bottle and all you had to do was to find it. Who cared where it came from. Heck, you didn’t even have to wash it. All you had to do was return it for the sweet sound of money dancing in your pocket. All you had to do was to send it back.

 

And that’s what Paul’s doing with Epaphroditus. I’m going to call him The Big E for short. Paul wasn’t sending him back just to be nice. Paul was returning The Big E because he’s the kind of guy you can’t do without. They were going to greatly benefit from his return. There were four benefits from his return

 

  • Brother – Someone who’d gone through the same birthing process, had the same parents, were on the same level.

  • Co-worker – Paul was called by Jesus personally, yet there was no boss/employee relationship, no hierarchy, they worked together as equals.

  • Fellow soldier – Again, there’s no military rank that puts Paul higher up, they both fight the good fight[2].

  • Messenger – A messenger doesn’t make up their own message or who to give it to. No, the message and destination is given to the messenger.

 

Yes, Paul’s returning The Big E. But why was he sent in the first place? To take care of Paul’s needs. The Philippians heard of Paul’s needs and answered it in two ways. First, they sent monies with The Big E to support Paul work for Christ. Second, The Big E was in himself a person who met Paul’s needs. Need for companionship. Need for help. Need for someone to share his burdens with.

 

Doesn’t The Big E sound like the kind of person we want to know? Is he the kind of person you need? Someone who’ll come alongside of us. Help us. Support us. Encourage us. Give to us. Yes, he does. But I wonder how attractive we are to this kind of person. Even in our need and loneliness, we can be the kind of people that are open and even attractive to the very people we need.

 

I have a friend that desperately needs help. It’s obvious to everyone that there are large needs in their life. And yet, they push people away. They’re sharp-tongued. They’re arrogant. They’re right and everyone else is wrong. And they’re more than willing to tell everyone just how wrong they are. One afternoon I happened to meet them in the parking lot of a grocery store. I walked up to them and said “Hi” with as friendly of a greeting as I knew how. Now, even though I was not the target of what they said next, it was hard to listen to their anger and bitterness. The swear words that they used were as offensive as I’ve ever heard.

 

Yes, I know that they’re hurting. Yes, I realize that they need a friend. And yes, I believe that only Jesus can heal the pain inside of them. But they push everyone away from them.

 

Maybe you need a person like The Big E in your life. If yes, are you looking for them? Are you searching for someone who can encourage you. Listen to you. Help you. If yes, then I need to ask where you’re looking. Are you spending time in the kind of place where people like The Big E hang out?

 

Or maybe you’re like The Big E. You’re that kind of person who’s got the kind of personal resources to help and support people. If you are, then you’re about as rare and special of a person as there is.

 

But no matter if you need The Big E in your life, or you’re like The Big E, you have a job to do. You need to be actively looking for the other kind of person. If you need encouragement and help, be searching for The Big E who can help you. Partner with you. If you’re The Big E, be on the lookout for people that you can reach out to.

 

No one is an island. We all have a part to play. There are people we need and there are people who need us. So, what’s stopping us from receiving or giving? Actually it’s the same thing – Pride. It’s time to put our pride down and return the deposit that God’s put into you.

 

Noodling Questions

 

  • How do you find and keep people you can’t do without?

  • Describe the last time you pushed people away who were trying to help.

  • What’s the part of life that you need help from someone else? Why?


[2] 1 Timothy 6:12

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