So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, (ESV)
Epaphroditus was going home to Philippi. He had left some time before and went to Rome. He was sent to the prison cell of the Apostle Paul to bring a financial gift from the Philippian believers. It was a much needed gift as Paul was completely dependent on others to provide for him while in prison. While in Rome Epaphroditus had become gravely ill, but was now healthy and coming home.
Epaphroditus would surely be carrying this letter to the church at Philippi with him. As the leaders of the church would read this very meaningful epistle from Paul they come to Paul's instruction concerning their friend Epaphroditus. They are instructed to receive him with joy and honor him. I am sure that they would have been joyful to see their friend, but I find the instruction to honor him significant.
I feel that sometimes the church is generally hesitant to honor people. There is a mentality that if we give people honor they will become prideful and we should not be leading anyone to sinful pride. While that is something to consider, I think it is important that we learn how to properly honor people in a way that encourages them while also giving God the ultimate glory.
Epaphroditus was willing to do whatever was necessary to support the work of proclaiming the Gospel. It nearly cost him his life. This is the kind of person whom we should honor. In fact, Paul does not just say to honor Epaphroditus, but all "such men." The church needs to be able to emulate faithful examples of servants of Christ. This happens as we honor those who are just that.
Do you know someone who is a faithful example of a servant of Jesus Christ? Find a way to honor them. And while you are at it, follow their faithful example!