A Man for Others in Bold Risk Taking

A Man for Others in Bold Risk Taking (Philippians 2:25-30)

Becoming a Man for Others liberates us from the enchantment of security and safety and galvanizes us to take risks in expanding Christ’s kingdom.

I.   The Hindrances to Becoming a Man for Others –

  • The beguiling enchantment of safety and security can keep us from taking bold risks in our service for Christ.
  • An affluence that leads to apathy and complacency. The pursuit of the American dream can seduce us away from taking risks in serving Christ and His kingdom.

II. The Directives for becoming a man for others

  • A man for others takes bold risks to expand Christ’s kingdom and build His church (2:25-30).
  • What does it mean to take risks for God? To sacrifice our own interests, comforts and resources to make much of Jesus Christ by serving His interests in the lives of others.
  • The word for “risked his life” is a gambler’s word. Paul uses the word  “to hazard with one’s life, to gamble.”  He gambled with his life. He gambled his life for Christ. He risked it for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ. The word risking is literally ‘gambling’, and there may be an intentional play on the name of Epaphroditus.  Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of gamblers, and a gambler hoping to win might call to her, epaphroditus (Hawthorne, Philippians).
  • How have men taken risks in the past?

Paul:  Every day he risked his life to further the gospel. The roads weren’t safe. The Jews, weren’t safe. The Gentiles weren’t safe.  The cities weren’t safe. The wilderness wasn’t safe. The sea wasn’t safe. Even the so-called Christian brothers weren’t safe. Safety was a mirage. It didn’t exist for the apostle Paul. He had two choices: waste his life or live with risk. And he answered this choice clearly: Acts 20:24.

The Early Church: In the early church there were societies of men and women who called themselves the parabolani, that is, the riskers or gamblers. They ministered to the sick and imprisoned, especially those who were ill with dangerous and infectious diseases, and they saw to it that, if at all possible, martyrs and sometimes even enemies would receive an honorable burial. . .

The Church Fathers: In A.D. 252 plague broke out in Carthage.  Cyprian, the Christian bishop, gathered his congregation together and set them to burying the dead and nursing the sick in that plague-stricken city; and by  doing so they saved the city, at the risk of their lives, from destruction and desolation. What a contrast with the practice of others who were throwing the corpses out of the plague-stricken city and were running away in terror.

Another Plague: During the Nazi’s systematic extermination of the Jews, there was a group of Christians who risked their lives to save Jewish children.  Le Chambonnais (Os Guiness, The Call, p.97)  There is a small town of three thousand in the mountains of southern France, which was the only safe haven for Jews in all of German-occupied Europe.  In that small community lived French Huguenots, who fired by their faith in Jesus Christ rescued more than five thousand Jewish children in the Second World War.  The Chambonnais simply did what had to be done, what they’d been taught to do, what Christ would have expected them to do – they sheltered and saved their neighbors, the Jews, who were in danger.

C.T. Studd:  “A gambler for God!  He joined the ranks of the great gamblers of faith, Abraham, Moses, etc., in Hebrews 11, and the true apostolic succession, “Men that have hazarded (gambled with, to jeopardize life to magnify and make known the name of Jesus Christ) their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:26).  He wrote:  “No craze so great as that of a gambler, and no gambler for Jesus was ever cured, thank God!”  His answer to the missions committee that rejected him was:  “Gentleman, God has called me to go, and I will go.  I will blaze the trail, though my grave may only become a stepping stone that younger men may follow.” (C. T. Studd: Cricketer & Pioneer by Norman P. Grubb, p.112)

III. Incentives for becoming a man for others. How is it that we are enabled to take risks for God?

Remember that any sacrifice that the Lord calls us to make is like a drink offering poured out on a much more significant sacrifice.

Words of CT Studd: “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then there is no sacrifice too great for me to make for him.”

Note in the text, the phrase “In the Lord” (3X).  As John Piper reminds us our faith is in the “all-providing, all-ruling, all-satisfying Son of the living God, Jesus Christ. The strength to risk losing face for the sake of Christ is the faith that God’s love will lift up your face in the end and He will smile upon you. The strength to risk losing money for the cause of the Gospel is the faith that we have a treasure in the heavens that cannot fail. The strength to risk losing life in this world is faith in the promise that he who loses his life in this world will save it for the age to come.”

Question: When was the last time you took a risk for Christ? What is one sacrifice that the Lord is asking you to make right now – one risk that the Lord is asking you to take for His glory and the expansion of His kingdom?

Write it down and ask one of your friends to hold you accountable to do it!

I close this post with two quotes from my favorite missionaries:

“In these days of easygoing Christianity is it not well to remind ourselves that it really does cost to be a man or woman God can use? One cannot obtain a Christ-like character for nothing; one cannot do a Christ-like work except at a great price.”  – Hudson Taylor

“No reserves, no retreats, no regrets!” – Bill Borden

Women Who Impacted the World for Christ – Mary Borden

Bill Borden

In his book entitled Serious Times: Making Your Life Matter in an Urgent Day, James Emery White writes about an impactful event in his own life:

“I once ran across an old book that has become a prized part of my library. It was a biography simply titled Borden of Yale. It told of a man named William Borden who went to Yale University as an undergraduate and afterward became a missionary candidate to China. Heir to the Borden Dairy estate, he was a millionaire by the time he graduated high school. As a gift on the event of his graduation, Borden was sent on a trip around the world. Traveling throughout Asia, the Middle East and Europe, he experienced a growing concern for the lost of the world. He wrote home to say, ‘I’m going to give my life to prepare for the mission field.’ After making this decision, he wrote two words in the back of his Bible: ‘No Reserves.’

“From there Borden went on to Yale University with purpose and determination. During his first semester he began a campus-wide student movement to meet regularly, read the Bible and pray. By the end of his first year, 150 fellow freshmen were meeting for weekly Bible studies. By the time he was a senior, 1,000 out of Yale’s 1,300 students were joining together in these groups. Beyond the campus, Borden founded the Yale Hope Mission to reach out to those on the streets of New Haven, Connecticut. All of this was set in the context of his call to missionary service, which soon focused on Muslims in China. After graduation, Borden was offered numerous high-paying jobs, but all were declined in order to pursue the mission field. At this point, he wrote down two more words in the back of his Bible: ‘No Retreats.’

“Borden next went to graduate school at Princeton Seminary, where he was ordained to the ministry. After he finished his studies, he set sail for China through the China Inland Mission, stopping first in Egypt to study Arabic. While there, he contracted cerebrospinal meningitis. In less than a month, William Borden was dead. He was twenty-six years old. But before his death, knowing that the steps of his life would take him no further, he had written two more words in his Bible; beneath ‘No Reserves’ and ‘No Retreats’ he had written No Regrets.'” (adapted from Mrs. Howard Taylor, Borden of Yale ’09)

Now, let me tell you about the woman behind this great man! Listen to her words on the eve of her son’s departure for Egypt where he was to go to learn Arabic and learn how to share the gospel with Muslims.

“In the quiet of my room that night, worn and weary and sad, I feel asleep asking myself again and again, ‘Is it, after all, worthwhile?’  And in the morning, as I awoke to consciousness, a still small voice was speaking in my heart, answering the question with these words:

‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…’”  The thought strengthened her for that day – the last day she would see him alive.

She wrote later:

“Each day, from his childhood, William and I had prayed that the will of God might be done in his life.  And, as we parted on the Mauretania, we prayed again.  I wonder if it occurred to him later, as it did to me, that we had prayed that he might be taken to China and made a blessing among its millions of Muslims – but only ‘if it be Thy will.’”

From childhood, Mary Borden had consecrated her William to the Lord. Have you done the same with your children?