“UNSUNG HEROES” By Pastor YAU
Text: Philippians 2:19-30 May 23, 2010.
1) A news report: A report by the Chicago Tribune said: “Many Americans, from clergymen to lawyers, from CEOs to war veterans had claimed medals of valor they never earned.” Bogus claims of bravery, fabricated war records are more widespread than anyone may imagine. One man, who falsely claimed a Navy Cross, later felt shame and said that real heroes rarely talk about what they have done.
2) A Bible report: Heroism is marked by an unselfish risking of one’s life for the life of another. In the Book of Philippians, Paul commends two of his colleagues as true heroes of the faith. Timothy’s unselfish service and proven character gained Paul’s praise as a true son in the gospel. Paul also described Epaphroditus as his brother, his fellow worker and soldier who risked his life for the work of Christ. (2:22, 25, 30)
THE SUPREME HERO: The death of Christ on behalf of all men.
1) It all began in God’s love: “For God so loved the world.” (John 3:16) The act of self sacrifice designed and carried out by God in the death of Jesus Christ is the supreme model of heroism ever seem by human eyes. The sole reason behind this act of heroism is the love of God. Love is the binding theme of the Bible and is the supreme nature of God. With all the attributes of God, love stands out as the foundational. If there isn’t love of God, all other attributes such as all knowing, all powerful, all righteous and many others will render no meaning. What would it be like if God were not love and all men perish in their sins?
2) It all because of men’s sin: “But God demonstrates his love for us is this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) Sin is one thing no one else can do anything about it, except the blood of Jesus to pay its price and to wash it away. It is the self-sacrifice of Jesus that paid all the wages of sins of all men in history. Many other heroic acts may save human lives. But only the death of Jesus can save souls of all men.
3) It saves all kinds of men: Most heroic acts may save one or a few men and usually saves those who are dear to the hero. But Jesus died to save all men, good or bad, sinners of long time ago or sinners of today and tomorrow. God’s love is for all people. No one will ever be excluded from His love or because of his background, education, wealth or any other reason. All he has to do is to accept the free gift.
4) It will last to eternity: All acts of heroism may save lives or things of temporary value. But the sacrificial death of Jesus brings to all who accept Him a relationship with God in eternity. This is the most important aspect of God’s love to man.
THE HUMAN HEROES: (Heroes to Paul. Phil. 2:19-27)
1) He shared Paul’s mindset: “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be comforted when I received news about you. I have no one else like-minded who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.” (2:19-20) Paul was thankful to God for having Timothy because he shared Paul’s mind with true interest in the welfare of others. How fortunate you would be to have someone shares your mindset and truly cares about others to work with you.
2) He cared Paul’s ministry: “For everyone looks out for his won interest. But you know Timothy has proved himself, because as a son to his father, he has served with me in the work of the gospel.” (2:21-22) Paul was thankful to have Timothy not for selfish personal interest, but for the ministry of the gospel the Lord has called him to do. Timothy didn’t just care about his friends, Paul and the Christian at Philippi, he also cared about the souls of unsaved millions. He certainly shared the vision and the call of Paul. So, to Paul, Timothy was a hero.
3) He was more than a brother: “But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, fellow soldier who is also your messenger whom you sent to take care of my needs.” (2:25) Epaphroditus did more than he was asked to---bringing the support of the church to Paul in Rome while he was in prison. He decided to stay and served the lonely and aging faithful servant of God. No one needs any explanation why he has become a hero to Paul at the moment of his needs.
4) He served with his life: “For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill and almost died.” (2:26-27) How could Paul not recognize this man as his hero when he was so dedicated in serving Paul to the point of death. Epaphroditus didn’t just bring gifts of love from his church people; he brought to Paul his heart and his life. How often have you seen anyone loves and serves God and people to the point of his/her death?
HOW TO TREAT UNSUNG HEROES: (2:27-30)
1) It’s all on God’s mercy: “But God has mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.” (2:27)Whatever we may do to help our fellow Christians or what we may serve God’s purpose, all depends on the mercies of God---in His time and in His terms. The best way to show our respect to those who help us go through difficult times is to ask God to shower His mercies on them.
2) Pay back what is due: “Therefore I am all the more eager to send him (back) so when you see him again you may be glad and I have less anxiety.” (2:28) Besides prayer support, we also can do things to bring joy to our heroes as a token of our grateful hearts. Be more than on receiving side, but also on the giving side, in any relationship is fair, cordial and beneficial.
3) Treat them with honor: “Welcome him in the Lord with great joy and honor men like him.” (2:29)To honor someone for his or her heroic work is to recognize his contribution. Giving credit where credit is due and honor their role in your life and the life of your community is the right thing to do. Do not ignore people who did something good to us. We may begin this by honoring our parents and grandparents and others as our heroes.
4) Seek to do your share: “Because he almost die for the work of Christ risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.” (2:30) Part of the reason Epaphroditus was ill and almost die in serving Paul and the gospel ministry was to make up the part others could do but left undone. When some people didn’t do their fair share of their responsibilities at home, in school, at work or in the church, someone else has to fill in their slot and do the extra work on their behalf. One way to honor heroes in our life is to seek opportunities to do our part, to share or meet the needs of others and to make up the shortfalls of others.
1) Look for your heroes: In our lifetime, there are many who had done good things to make our life easier or better. Do not take them for granted. Look around your circle of life and find these people and do something to show your appreciation for what they have done to you. Make sure you show proper respect to honor these people you won’t be where you are without them.
2) Be a hero to someone: Better to give than to receive is always a good principle to follow in life. When God places you in a right place at the right time to do something good and helpful to some one, just do it without hesitation. You may not have that same opportunity at another day or time. Try this within your inner circle of life, family, friends and church. Be a hero to someone.
3) Don’t forget the super hero: Jesus is the super hero in all time of human history. His death on the cross opens the way for you to approach God. Confess your sins and ask him to forgive you. Invite Jesus into your heart to lead your life, to make it a anew and meaningful for the years to come.