Paul was in jail. It didn’t bother him much. It was part of the job. When you teach things that challenge the religious and political structures, you can expect to be in jail.
What bothered him more was that a group of good friends, supportive friends, knew that he was in jail. They wondered about him. They sent a couple guys to check on him. Sending meant traveling miles and days. For one of the guys this trip was brutal. He got sick. He nearly died.
Paul decided to send Epaphroditus home. He wrote a letter for E to carry. Here’s how it starts.
I love thinking about all the ways you encourage me. You are completely part of my heart. When you are helping me, you are part of a great work, something life and death, something that matters. And I know that’s what you want to do. I pray that’s what you want to be.
It’s why I’m in prison right now. Other people are mocking me. They are free. They are saying “You can talk about Jesus without getting locked up for being abrasive.” But I don’t care. That means they are talking. And I’m committed. In fact, I’m willing to die for it.
If you want to know how to live this way, serving others, risking your life, you find a great example in Jesus. In fact, there’s a hymn about him about him people here are singing. I think you’ll find it helpful.
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
I’ll let you read the rest of it yourself. It’s called Philippians. But it’s really a love letter.