It is a shame that in our world of sports, our heroes are the men and women who have great stats and electric highlights, i.e. whether it is yardage gained, passes caught, TD’s thrown, points scored, block shots, longest and number of HR’s, super human dunks, one hand unbelievable receptions, broken tackles, etc. We love human highlights on fields and courts. However, many times, these players are not the most respected in the locker rooms. It’s the ones who play team ball, great students of the game, work their tails off in practice, can be counted on to do everything right and stay in tune with the other players always ready to support. Often, players are kept around; because, they are “great in the locker room.” It is these players who often end up great coaches.
In scripture, there is a guy who reminds me of the solid players and great teammates who get little notoriety. His name is Epaphras who is recorded in scripture only three times. Let’s take a look at this guy and how his life impacts us today.
Paul the Apostle records his impact on the first century church in Colossians 1:7, You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf. Reading this verse, you wonder what the Colossians “learned from Epaphras.” You discover in verses 3-6 that he taught them:
- “faith in Christ Jesus.”
- “love for all God’s people,” not just the ones we choose to love but for ALL God’s people
- the faith and love “that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel.” In these days of pandemic, we desperately need to look for faith and love “that spring from the hope”
- “stored up for you in heaven”
- “heard in the true message of the gospel”
- “truly understood (because of) God’s grace.”
We can’t base our hope on the multiple sources of today’s news and keeping up with the national, statewide and local COVID 19 death count or the numbers of us infected with the disease. Base it on what Epaphras taught the Colossians.
Paul again recorded the testimony of Ephphras in Colossians 4:12, “Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” Paul called Epaphras a “servant of Christ Jesus (who) is always wrestling in prayer” of others. Do we wrestle in prayer for others? We have tendency to worry, gripe and judge. Let’s learn how to “wrestle in prayer.” Pam and I currently are learning to “wrestle in prayer” for one of our grandchildren who is struggling. We are not robots. Both of us are ultra-concerned and even frightened; however, as Epaphras, we are learning to “wrestle in prayer” on behalf of our grandchild with the “hope” and knowledge that God is listening.
The third record of Epaphras is in Philemon 1:23, “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings.” Epaphras had great respect of the other Christians in that day especially Paul. He sacrificed for Jesus to the point of imprisonment.
We need to heed the testimony of this little-known Christian. He was not the superstar who received tons of press and comments in history; however, Paul and others knew and respected this man of God. I pray each of us will ask God to make us like Epaphras.