Philippians 3:1-6 Serving in Person & Leading By Example
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also. 25 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, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
Paul raises the profiles of two men who have proven their character through their stint in service for Paul. He raises them as examples of ministers who have genuine concern for the people, who serve selflessly even unto death. He hopes the church would receive them as honorable ministers who could lead by their approved character.
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
Paul has in mind to send Timothy to the church in Philippi so that Timothy could minister to them on his behalf. Timothy is Paul’s choice as a minister to the believers there, reason being that Timothy is genuinely concerned for their welfare. The attitude of genuine concern is the criterion of effective ministry. If anyone desires to become an effective disciple maker, minister or manager, he must first develop a genuine concern for the individuals he is ministering to; a genuine concern for the circumstances of their family, workplace, their spiritual progress and calling etc. It is paramount that ministers in the course of their ministry impart God’s virtues to the people. The ultimate purpose of the church is to enable believers to love like Jesus does. Paul makes a general statement that most ministers care only for their own interests by enriching themselves through the pretext of preaching the gospel.
But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.
Paul serves up Timothy’s background so that they may understand Timothy’s proven worth. Proven worth means approved and tried character. Under Paul’s guidance and purview as a disciple maker, Timothy has proven himself as reliable, dependable, trustworthy and obedient to spiritual authority. Paul describes Timothy’s relationship with him as father and son in the ministry of the gospel. As a son to Paul, Timothy receives apostolic grace and empowerment: revelations of the word, perseverance, signs and wonders where he learns to submit to earthly authority and to lead with authority.
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, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 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.
Paul wastes no opportunity in raising up Epaphroditus, another worker of good stature and proven worth. His character is proven on two counts: he did not revel in the attention that he received back home for he became distressed because of the turmoil and anxieties he caused. He supposed that they might have imagined the worst knowing that he is sick. Epaphroditus served Paul and risking his life by being there in person for the sake of the gospel. Hence, Paul wastes no time in raising Epaphroditus’ profile, so that the church may recognize his proven character and follow his example.
- A person’s character and capabilities must first be proven before greater authority can be entrusted. God is waiting for us to prove ourselves and to bear fruit in the responsibilities entrusted to us. Hence, we must be diligent and patient to wait until the foundations are adequately built. At the right time, God will enlarge our influence and begin the next phase of our ministry and career. If a bigger responsibility is entrusted to one without adequate preparation, he may hurt himself and others by making wrong decisions. He may experience unnecessary failure and devastation that he may not recover from.
- We serve God not just by giving our finances, but by being there in person for them. By being in person, we impart something more valuable that money cannot. Timothy and Epaphroditus served Paul in person and extended his ministry of the gospel. Financial resources can never replace the encouragement of one in person. Love, strength and miracles can only be imparted through the presence of one who loves. Physical bread from heaven cannot bring salvation, but only God coming in person through Christ and reaching out to all with a human touch.
- Do not endorse another person unless he has proven himself to you in no uncertain terms. Paul endorses Timothy and Epaphroditus after associating with them for a time and has seen their proven worth. By endorsing someone whom we do not know well, we are putting our own reputation at risk and present a false confidence to the receiving party. Hence, it is better to leave the evaluation to others who will judge in their own capacity.
- Are you accustomed to giving finances to the needy rather than investing your time and talent to help them. Lives are changed not by the gift of finances but by genuine concern and acts of kindness done in person. Take time to serve in the outreach ministries of your church or charity organization.
- Do you have a knack of endorsing others hastily? It is better not to say anything if you are not hundred percent sure but to leave the judging to the receiving party.
Dear Lord, help me to redirect my focus from my personal struggles to the needs of others. Help me to serve with genuine concern and sacrifice. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.