Tuesday, 24 January 2017
Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. Philippians 2:28
“Therefore” connects the dots of the previous verses concerning Epaphroditus. Verse 25 spoke of Paul’s necessity in sending him back. This was then explained in the next two verses. Now, he sums that up by saying, “I sent him the more eagerly.” It can be inferred that he didn’t want to send him at all, but because of the sickness, he sent him back, and even with eagerness. What was right and fitting was this course of action.
To explain it, he then says, “…that when you see him again, you may rejoice.” These words follow from verse 26 which said that he “was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.” Ephaphroditus’ distress was increased because of their worry for him. Neither he nor Paul wanted that, and so he was going to back to Philippi to give them a chance to rejoice. However, there is a note of sadness which follows from this. Paul says that “I may be less sorrowful.”
Being less of something implies that the thing still exists. He has been talking about rejoicing, even in his imprisonment, but that rejoicing does not cancel out his sorrows. Instead, they are separate boxes which he had packaged up. The rejoicing was in the spirit and in the hope of Christ; the sadness was in the flesh and in the loss of his much needed help in the return of Epaphroditus. The words then are reminiscent of his note in 2 Corinthians 6:10 which say, “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”
Life application: There is nothing wrong with being a Christian and being sorrowful. We are human beings with human limitations. We should always, and in all situations, rejoice in Christ and in the hope that He has our difficulties all safely guarded in His capable hands. And yet, we can also express the human emotions and frailties that God has instilled in us. There is nothing dishonoring of God in this. He created us to express ourselves in a godly manner in each of our emotional and spiritual states.
Lord God, though we may not mourn as the world mourns, we are still emotional creatures. When we encounter trials, or pains, or even death in our lives, we know that it is being worked out for a good end and so we can rejoice. But in our human condition, we can still mourn for the situation we are in. This is a constant theme in Your word. On one hand, we have a great hope, but on the other, we are in a weak body which must face the effects of the world we live in. Help us as we look ahead to glory, but endure now the effects of a fallen world. Be with us in both, O God. Amen.