New International Version
28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honour people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.
3 :1 Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.
In Philippians, the theme of joy even in the face of death come through so strongly, that it is not just Paul who says of himself, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain,” but it would also seem that Epaphroditus would say the same thing, too.
“Eager” “glad” “joy” “rejoice” are wonderful words here and make us feel, “yes please” to what Paul is saying. But the context is gladness and joy in the face of real risk and sacrifice. “No thank you” is probably our knee jerk reaction to that!
Yet the two are connected. Epaphroditus risked his life because he loved Paul and the church, but mostly because he loved Jesus. The love and joy the believers had for Jesus and for one another was worth more than life itself. The anxiety Paul felt in v28 is the concern of love for a brother in Christ, not a general anxious disposition.
We should honour people like him (v29) by following their example.
A life lived with no risk, without putting ourselves on the line for love of Jesus and His Church is a life half-lived. For years I tussled with the fear that living fully and completely for Jesus was going to make me miserable. But nothing could be further from the truth. Paul and Epaphroditus would laugh at the very idea that sacrifice involves misery. See how much joy soaks this letter!
So, I guess I have a choice. Live small and miss the joy, or live like Epaphroditus, living the adventure of obedience, risking all for love and its sure reward of joy in the Lord Jesus.