Am I a Gambler ?

Am I a Gambler ?

File:Dice (typical role playing game dice).jpg

 

(This week I start another class…so my posts might be sparse, but I’m still here.)

 

I’ve been slowly moving through St Paul’s letter to the Philippians, where the opening sentence sets the tone for the whole letter.

He says:

From Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus…

He is writing to a church where he knows the people will lovingly listen to him; it was the church he was closest to and the one to whom he writes as a friend. Some commentaries say the word ‘servant’ (in the Greek, doulos) is better translated…’slave’. When St Paul calls himself a slave of Christ, he is saying a few things:

  • Christ bought him with a price and he could NEVER belong to anyone else
  • A slave takes His Master’s will- it must become his own
  • servant of God was a title given to Moses, Joshua and David. It was a title of high honor placing himself in succession of the great prophets of God

All the more powerful a message when you realize he is writing this letter from a prison in Rome, yet encouraging the Philippians in the trials they were going through. It’s a letter of thanks, encouragement, an appeal for unity and it’s where that great passage of Christ’s humility arises in Chpt 2: 1-11.

But, the part that has captured my attention this time through is about Epaphroditus in Chpt 2:25-30, where St Paul writes:

It is essential, I think to send brother Epaphroditus back to you. He was sent as your representative to help me when I needed someone to be my companion in working and battling, but he misses you all and is worried because you heard about his illness.

This brother, it seems, was sent to St Paul as the gift bearer for the Philippians when they heard he was in prison, sent in hopes that he would remain to be the apostle’s servant…

But, he got sick, perhaps with the Roman fever which sometimes swept through that city like a scourge; so sick he almost died…and he was homesick.

It is true that he has been ill and almost died, but God took pity on him, and spared me what would have been one grief on top of another.

So I shall send him back as promptly as I can; you will be happy to see him again and that will make me less sorry.

 

Epaphroditus showed great courage in attending St Paul, for in offering himself to attend a man in prison, he also subjected himself to the risk of being criminally charged. St Paul was concerned that if he went home, there would be some who would accuse him of being a quitter.

 

Despite sitting in a prison himself awaiting death, he very movingly sets out to make it easy for his brother to go home. He writes,

Give him a most hearty welcome, in the Lord; people like him are to be honored.

It was for Christ’s work he came so near to dying, and risked his life to give me the help you were not able to give me yourselves.

The phrase, ‘risked his life’ (hazarding his life) comes from a very interesting Greek word, which I can’t pronounce- the verb-

paraboleuesthai

It’s a gambler’s word which means to risk everything on the roll of the dice. St Paul was saying that this dear brother who had been sent to him, had in his love for Christ and his brother fearlessly rolled the dice gambling with his life in order to serve.

Interestingly, in the Early Church there was a curious apostolate of sorts. They called themselves the ‘parabolani’ –the gamblers–who set out to care for the prisoners and the sick, especially those dying of infectious diseases. In AD 252 when a plague broke out in Carthage, non believers were found to dispose of the bodies and flee in terror, but St Cyprian, bishop, gathered his people together instructing them to bury the dead and care for the sick in the plague ridden city. By risking their lives, they saved the city from destruction.

So many in our culture today have a reckless courage of sorts, willing to gamble with their lives, but not for eternal things.

They are servants–even slaves.–having surrendered their wills to a master who is not Christ.

With the roll of the dice, they are risking all.

If that is true for the world, I wonder…

How much more should I as a Christian, a servant (slave) of Christ, be willing to be one of the modern day ‘parabolani’, ever ready to gamble my life away with reckless courage in order to serve Christ and my brothers and sisters in the Lord?

 

+PAX

 

  • Study notes: The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, William Barclay
  • Scripture verses from: The Jerusalem Bible

4 Comments

  1. Nancy
    Jun 9, 2014

    THANK YOU for sharing this insight with us! Much to ponder here… I’m so grateful…

    • Caroline
      Jun 9, 2014

      Nancy, I don’t know how many times I’ve read Philippians and passed over Epaphroditus with a yawn, but I found much to meditate on here, too. I’m so glad the Holy Spirit has re-energized me to find my life in God’s Word .. Blessings always +

  2. Victor S E Moubarak
    Jun 12, 2014

    Haven’t seen you around lately. Hope you’re keeping well.

    God bless.

    • Caroline
      Jun 13, 2014

      Victor, I have been away from the blogs, but I keep everyone in my prayers. I will make time to stop by and visit soon.
      The classes I’m taking have taken up most of my spare time.
      I so appreciate you stopping by.
      Blessings always and +

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