“Because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.”
Not many of us will kill ourselves in working for the Lord. In this verse we meet a man who almost died serving the Lord.
“because for the work of Christ he came close to death”
Epaphroditus was like the apostle Paul. He risked his life for the Lord Jesus: “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). Paul predetermined in his mind to be willing to die for Christ: “For I am ready, not only to be bound [put in prison], but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (21:13). Paul and Barnabas are described as “men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (15:26).
Epaphroditus almost worked himself to death for the Lord Jesus. Today, we have many excuses for not serving the Lord: “I must take care of my family,” “I have to put in many hours at work.” These are standard, stock excuses. “If I have any time on the outer fringe of my time, I will give it to the Lord.” “If I have any spare time I will give it to the Lord—but I rarely have any spare time.” “As soon as I retire, as soon as I am a little more healthy, I will serve God.” When we retire we will be too worn out to serve him.
“not regarding his life”
“Not regarding his life” means that Epaphroditus had the “No Fear” philosophy. He gambled his life for the cause of Christ. His stake was his own life. The Greek indicates he did this before coming near to death. He did not fear death before he fell sick. When his sickness became so severe that he almost died, he had no fear then, either.
“to supply what was lacking in your service toward me”
Epaphroditus went from Philippi to Rome to minister to Paul. The entire Philippian church could not come, so they sent one of their leaders. He willingly risked his life for that cause. “Toward me” is literally face to face with me. Epaphroditus personally served the Lord by serving Paul.
If we do not serve the Lord because of fear when things are going right, we certainly will not serve the Lord under duress.
If we do not fear death now, we will not fear any disaster that may come our way. We can serve the Lord with abandon. We will throw down our lives as a stake. We will ante up our lives for the Lord. If the Lord comes, the opportunity to serve Him will be gone. We might have to say to the Lord, “Well, Lord, you came too soon. I did not expect you this quickly. I had good intentions but . . .” It may be over sooner than we think. When He comes we will “settle up.” He will ask, “When did you receive me as your Savior? You have been a Christian a long time. Let us look at your service record.” “Oh Lord, I didn’t know You were so serious about me serving You!” People who are serious about serving the Lord serve Him with abandon. They do not count the cost.