Previously I wrote about John 13. Jesus demonstrated, and then commanded, a love that was shown in self-sacrificing service even to one's enemies. The devotional was concluded by quoting Phil. 2:3-4: "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Paul provides an example of this type of love (aside from the Lord) later in this very chapter.
Phil. 2:25-30 "I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him . . . . So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me."
First, understand Paul's opinion of Epaphroditus. "MY brother, MY fellow worker and fellow soldier". Great men often are reluctant to claim any as equals. Given how many of us view Paul, we might expect him to be similarly remote, yet he holds Epaphroditus close. This was clearly a great man! Epaphroditus' love for others is first evident in his concern for the anxiety his brethren in Philippi would feel when they heard that he was sick. He wasn't worried for his own things (he was sick!), he was thinking of the things of others.
The love shown by service that Jesus demonstrated in John 13, the looking out for the interest of others, is seen in how Epaphroditus became sick. Paul says Epaphroditus "nearly died for the work of Christ". What was that work? "Service to me," Paul says. While Paul was in prison, Epaphroditus was so focused on filling Paul's needs that he didn't take care of himself. He worked himself to exhaustion. I can almost hear the conversation:
Paul: "Epaphroditus, you don't look so good. Maybe you should get some rest."
Epaphroditus: "Right after I get the food put away in the pantry, Paul. Oh! and then your next shipment of parchment comes in later this morning. And someone needs to get you a new robe. And this afternoon I'm interviewing a new stenographer for you. I'll rest later."
Epaphroditus' total devotion to the needs of others is a great example for us in learning how to "love one another even as I have loved you" John 13:34.