There is only one place in the New Testament where the word for gambling is used. It is found in Philippians 2:30, “Because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me” (NASB). The Greek word used for “risking” means literally to gamble or to play the gambler. Thus we see that Christians are to gamble, with their very lives in service for God.

In the passage here in Philippians Paul is speaking about Epaphroditus who had come to be with Paul in his imprisonment and serve him in whatever way he could. Epaphroditus served Paul and the Lord well, for Paul says he was a brother, fellow-worker and fellow-soldier. 

Paul says the reason he gambled with his life is that he was completing what was lacking in the Philippians service. This is not a rebuke to the Philippians for being deficient in servicing, but rather means that since they could not be with him themselves, Epaphroditus was the one who chose to meet the need.

In the Church today there are so many needs where service is lacking because there is no one who is there to do the work and meet the need. How desperately we need those like Epaphroditus who are willing to go and gamble with their lives in meeting the needs of the hurting world. 

Those who are willing to be a brother or a sister, a fellow-worker, a fellow-soldier, working and warring against the enemy. Using such a word as gambling to speak of the Christians’ response to service Christ is a challenge to an easy-going, no commitment Christianity which makes no demands for self-denying sacrifice in service to the Lord.

In the post-apostolic church there was a group who were called the parabolomi, the word coming from the same Greek word. They gambled with their lives to nurse the sick and bury the dead in the midst of great persecution of Christians. We need to raise up a new group of parabolomi whose desire is to serve God alone and who will put aside any fears or hindrances in order to serve Him, even to the risking of their very lives.


About Rick McDaniel

Rick McDaniel is a noted author, international communicator and church leader. He is the founder/senior pastor of Richmond Community Church in Richmond, Virginia. The church is known for its contemporary and innovative services and has a worldwide reach through www.highimpactchurch.tv. McDaniel has earned three degrees including an advanced degree from Duke University and is the author of​ six​​ books including his latest "Turn Your Setbacks Into Comebacks." He has traveled and spoken at conferences and churches worldwide spanning six continents.

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