“Timothy: An Example of Selfless Service”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Philippians 2.19-24
Philippians 2. You mimic what you observe. Like the angry man in proverbs… Proverbs 22:24–25 24 Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, 25 Or … [what]…. you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself.
You’ll become angry if you observe the angry man; you’ll begin to mimic him, copy his behaviour. We tend to mimic what we hang around.
Why do those in the southern USA speak with a southern drawl ya’ll … like this? Why? They imitate those around them. That’s why Proverbs talks about peer pressure right out of the gate in Proverbs 1! After the introduction …
Proverbs 1:10 10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.
Why? Because if you start hanging around the wrong crowds, you’re going to be like them!
ILL: This mimicking is especially true in children. When my wife took our kids to a mom+tots group, and it was only about after a couple hours and our children were mimicking the other children’s dance moves from some celebrity.
It didn’t take long to mimic that; just a couple of hours. We copy what we see, especially kids. And teens tend to want to copy their peers, and are less likely to copy their parents.
TV … if you watch violence or immoral things thousands of times before you’re 12, that’ll affect you. …it’ll affect you even if you watch it at the age you are now. Multiply that mimicking to every last human being who’s exposed to all those raunchy programs and commercials …btw…the average Canadian adult watches a whopping 30 hours of television a week.
All that TV watching and knowing that we mimic what we observe …all of society will eventually go down hill…and I think we can see some correlation there.
We’re designed to mimic. There are countless examples of this in psychology, but one example is particularly embarrassing for me. One of the things that most embarrasses me is with reference to my speech, especially my pulpit speech.
I sound like my former pastor in Greenville SC. I get it all the time from people who know my pastor. Bud Talbert, president of FBC, one of his daughters knows my former pastor in Greenville and has told me I sound like my former pastor. But hey… I can’t help it!
I even got severely criticized for it in pulpit speech classes; the students would write on their evaluations of my 12-15 minute sermonettes… “stop talking like Pastor Minnick”… but I can’t help it!” I mimicked and still mimic what I was exposed to as a hungry, thirsty young Christian.
Because I listened to someone for 3 hours a week at church, plus I heard him in graduate school classes every other day for an hour, I eventually started to sound like him…because I was agreeing with, I began to think like him, and whatever else. “It is enough for the servant to become like his master,” Jesus said.
I suppose I could have mimicked something a lot worse.
So, whether you realize it or not, you mimic too! And so do your kids! That’s why we need to make sure we’re surrounding ourselves with the right people…and soaking up their righteous behaviour.
In verse 19-24 of Philippians 2, Paul gives us the first of two examples of those we should mimic. This section concerns Paul’s desire to send to the Philippians a man named Timothy. Verse 19 … “I hope to send Timothy to you shortly.” Paul hopes to send Timothy to the Philippians shortly.
Timothy is Paul’s protégé, his student, his disciple. Timothy’s father was Greek and his mother a Jew. Timothy became a Christian during Paul’s first missionary journey to Timothy’s native land, Lystra.
And Paul was persecuted in Lystra, enduring persecutions and sufferings… And Timothy has followed Paul’s footsteps, even witnessing Paul’s suffering and persecution (2 Ti. 3:11).
Paul commends this man to us for our mimicking. Let’s read Phil. 2:19-24
Philippians 2:19–24 19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. 20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father. 23 Therefore I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me; 24 and I trust in the Lord that I myself also will be coming shortly.
These verses continue Paul’s missionary report, which he started back in chapter 1:12 down to verse 26. Then he exhorted the Philippians concerning there need to walk worthy of the gospel… And now in chapter 2 verse 19 Paul begins a section giving us two examples of what it looks like to walk worthy of the gospel.
And so not only does this section continue Paul’s missionary report but it also gives to us two examples to follow: Timothy and Epaphroditus, in verses 25 to the end of the chapter.
And so Paul is giving his missionary report and giving his travel plans which include both Timothy and Epaphroditus. Epaphroditus is discussed beginning in verse 25, which we did not read, and he is the one who actually carried the letter to the Philippians.
First in our passage is Timothy. Paul hopes to send Timothy shortly. So Paul writes this letter, he gives it to Epaphroditus. Epaphroditus takes it to the Philippians and the Philippians realize after reading the letter …that Paul wants to send Timothy to them before too long.
Our text is vv.19-24 and I’d like to give verse 19 and verse 23-24 as part of the introduction to the message. These verses give the reason for and the timing of sending Timothy.
Verses 23-24 is simply the timing of sending Timothy:
Philippians 2:23–24 23 Therefore I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me; 24 and I trust in the Lord that I myself also will be coming shortly.
He wants to send him … immediately, as soon as he sees how it will go with him, he actually trusts that he’ll come to the Philippians soon, too. He could be getting out of jail soon…he anticipates that he will.
And verse 19 is the reason for sending Timothy.
Philippians 2:19 19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition.
The “I also” may be encouraged … The I also is meant to be emphasized. “I hope to send Timothy to you shortly so that I also may be encouraged”… In other words, the Philippians are encouraged as well. “I hope to send Timothy to you shortly so that I also may be encouraged”…not just you.
Paul knows that the Philippians will be encouraged when Timothy arrives with his news about Paul. And so Paul also wants to be encouraged. And he will be when Timothy returns … that encouragement will come when he learns about how the Philippians are doing.
Philippians are encouraged about Paul when they learn of Paul’s condition. Paul is encouraged about Philippians when Paul learns about how they are doing. “I hope to send Timothy to you shortly so that I also may be encouraged.”
Christians can get discouraged. Whether it’s health, family, or your work… But even discouraged about your ministry for the Lord. Christians can compare themselves to other Christians who seem to be more gifted either in music, or in Christian living, giving, or teaching the Bible, or whatever. They think they can’t do anything for the Lord.
So they feel useless … But every Christian can be an encouragement. Dr. Robert Dale was a popular preacher in England in the 1800s. He preached at Carrs Lane Church, which could seat 600 people. And he used to get discouraged.
One day he was in a funk and he was walking along one of the streets in Birmingham when a poor woman carrying many packages stopped him and said, “God bless you, Dr. Dale!” He didn’t know her so he asked, “thank you; what is your name?” Never mind my name,” came the answer… “But if you only knew how you have made me feel 100 times, and what a happy home you have given me! God bless you!” she said. And the mist broke, the sunlight came and he breathed the free air of the mountain again.
APP: Everyone needs encouragement; and though you may view yourself poor or the least gifted like that lady…which is far from bad if you do…you can still be an excellent encouragement to whom you view to be the most gifted people! Don’t be shy to say a kind word.
But since we’re not the Philippians, the rest of the passage give us a good example to follow. You’ll see in this passage that Timothy is an example of selfless service. Timothy is an example of selfless service.
I’ve got two points: Timothy’s character and Timothy’s service. His character is selfless and his service is proven worthy. What Paul values in a servant of Christ, is primarily character and out of character comes a proven selfless service. First, his selfless character.
Timothy’s Character: Selfless (v.20-21)
Unified: kindred spirit with his leader
Look at the first one…
Philippians 2:20 20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit …
Timothy is unified with his leader.
Paul has no one else who is literally one-souled. Timothy is like-minded with Paul. He’s unified with Paul, attempts to follow Paul…No, Timothy is not just a yes-man, but he gives his input and is willing not to have things go his way… and he seeks to conform himself to Paul and the mission of Christ given to him. Timothy knows how to follow Paul; he is unified with him.
There is no one else like that for Paul! What a privilege to have someone in ministry who is like-minded, of one-mind. It is evidently a rare thing, Paul says there is no one else like that! And they are so close, verse 22 says … it’s like a father and a son relationship, is Paul and Timothy.
ILL: For a son to follow in his footsteps … what dad wouldn’t want that! That’s Timothy, following in Paul’s footsteps.
TRANS: Timothy is unified with his leader; also, he genuinely cares.
Caring: genuinely concerned for others’ welfare
Philippians 2:20 20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.
Timothy’s care is genuine. It’s not made up…he’s not caring about other people just to look good, it’s not a hypocritical care, it’s genuine. The real deal, the genuine article. 100% gold, no dross in there at all. He’s not exercising any care out of envy or strife as some Paul’s knows about.
No, Timothy really cares; it’s deep in his heart.
Care: That word “concerned” is a word that can be translated anxiety. It’s translated that way in Phil. 4:6 … “Be anxious for nothing.” This is a sincere care; but it’s not that Timothy is worried over the Philippians, that’s not the point. But his concern for real people for their standing before God and their well-being….that care and concern has real weight to it in his soul.
ILL: This past Friday morning I had an in depth conversation with two particular Jehovah’s Witnesses… For the third time.
They keep coming over for some more, I suppose. Since I’m teaching my class on apologetics …on defending the faith…this next week, it was very fitting.
This meeting on Friday was over 2 1/2 hours long. I walked away from the conversation deeply concerned for their souls. I could feel it… I would walk around the house throughout the day after that praying for them… And it’s the same way with you all. I have many stories of how I have had joy or sorrow over you and your souls… Because of my concern for your welfare.
APP: Of course this isn’t surprising….you should expect this of your pastor, but do you have that same real genuine spiritual care for God’s people? This isn’t just for pastors. When someone sins or when someone is struggling or when someone is getting major victory are you moved in your heart in the righteous direction over that? Burdened for the lost…not just burdened for evangelism, but burdened for the lost…burdened for the glory of God in people’s hearts…caring for them; genuine concern for the welfare of God’s people.
TRANS: Timothy is unified: one-mind with his leader. Caring, he’s genuinely concerned for others’ welfare. Now third point under his selfless character…unified, caring, and now humility: does not seek after his own interest, but those of Christ’s
Humble servant: does not seek after his own interest, but those of Christ’s
First here…the implication is that Timothy is not seeking after his own interests, but those of Christ’s.
Philippians 2:20–21 20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.
Not seeking his own interest
Pursuits of this world: money, fame, wealth, worldly honour, storing up treasures on earth, not rich toward God, letting the things of life distract from what’s truly important…that’s not Timothy! He’s not seeking his own interests. He’s humble toward Christ’s interests; meek toward the words of Christ….Instead, he is seeking Christ’s interests.
Seeking Christ’s interests
What are those interests of Christs? The progression of His word…that’s what Christ is interested in.
Mark 1:15 Jesus was preaching… “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Christ’s interests are giving up your life for Him and for His life …
Luke 9:23 23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” A real death to yourself…your plans, ambitions, and wishes.
Christ’s interests are about making disciples:
Matthew 28:19 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
These interests are Timothy’s life. What interests Christ interests Timothy. Timothy doesn’t have so much stuff in his life going on that he’s not interested in reading the Bible. Timothy is not so distracted by the things of this world that he has no more room left in his heart for the things that really interest Christ.
Paul writes… “they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. “
all seek after their own interests
Really? All of the rest seek their own interests? Without exception? Probably not. It’s not like Epaphroditus, whom Paul commends in last part of chapter 2, … it’s like he seeks after his own interests.
So what’s going on here? Paul’s in Rome…in prison. He could be discouraged with the Christians at Rome. Paul could have sent anyone from Rome, but all he felt like he had were these 2 men! 2 Ti. 4:16 describes Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome and no one stood with him. No one is supporting him! The church of Rome was large…there were many pastors. And so the pastors had this problem, too. The Christians in Rome had a problem! Pastors and laymen alike sought their own interests.
Pastors seek their own interests when they seek comfort over ministry to the people. Money over service; Pleasure over prayer, fun over study. I need to watch myself to ensure that I don’t fall into these traps….And if pastors have the problem, laymen aren’t immune either.
You seeking your own interests becomes evident… if I may be blunt this morning…when work or hobbies comes before family,
…by the way they say this about pastors too. Good pastors are too often married to the ministry. Whenever there is a fire, they grab the keys at supper time with the family and run out the door. God, family, then work…that’s a hard call, but too much of that takes a toll on the family.
You seeking your own interests becomes evident when computers or media or even reading come before family, when prayer meetings are neglected, when work takes precedence over the Lord’s Day…you’re seeking your own interests…let’s just be real here. You notice, I notice, we notice.
When Christ is secondary at work or with friends; when you’re willing to compromise your testimony because no Christians can see you doing that…there’s a problem.
If you are addicted, or struggling in some way with some sin, you need help! Do you catch yourself saying … “I can’t stop doing ______________” …. Then there’s a problem…you’re seeking after your own interests. Instead seek Christ’s interest and seek out some discipleship … there is no harm in that.
But instead … when you put your life on hold for the sake of Christ and his church, that’s seeking His interests. Keep that up; don’t quit!
ILL/APP: Many of you have helped with the cleanup of the new church building. Moving stuff, painting, many hours, labour, sweat, aching feet and back…thank you! Thank you for putting aside your interests and for seeking the interests of Christ…a nice building is attractive…God can use it to attract people to His Son.
But don’t stop…take a break maybe, but keep serving Christ, His interests, not yours.
ILL: We may laugh and scoff at the prosperity gospel, the spiritualized American Dream …what you hear these men and women promising that if you serve God, He’ll increase the amount in your checking account; or if you give a little seed of faith…a financial gift to some ministry, God’ll increase your wealth. No need for sacrifice… that’s horribly evil and wrong.
APP: But I wonder how much of that American dream is still in you! Except you haven’t spiritualized it maybe…you might not give a seed of faith thinking your wealth for your pleasure will be increased, but instead you seek the things of this world, neglecting what Christ is really interested in, in your life.
Let me ask you, would you follow the Lord if by the middle of your life, you got a large house, a boat, and cushy retirement account? Would you follow the Lord for that? But would you follow the Lord if in the end, you’re crucified?
Luke 9:23–24 23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
And so don’t be a Demas… Paul writes…
2 Timothy 4:10 10 for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me…”
1 John 2:15 15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Love of the world is one of those dividing lines between heaven and hell. If you are not seeking out what interests Christ and you are seeking out the things of this world…where does that leave you? You have not lost your life; you do not possess eternal life, you need to repent, and give up! Ask Christ to save your miserable soul!
TRANS: In ministry, not just character, but proven worthy service is important. And character results in proven worthy service. Second major heading this morning…Timothy’s proven worthy service. Verse 22…Paul writes of Timothy…
Timothy’s Service: Proven Worthy Service (v.22)
Philippians 2:22 22 But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.
Timothy’s worth has been proven.
his worth has been proven
And they knew it: “but you know” of his proven worth…that he served…his service was well known; he was faithful.
His service was proven worth … proven worth… it’s the kind of thing we do to make sure we can use something. The thing has proven worth, we tested it, we know it’s proven…Jesus used the verb form of this word in Luke in the parable of the dinner.
Luke 14:16–19 16 Jesus illustrates the kingdom and says … “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; 17 and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ 18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. …and one said…, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’
No excuses by the way…give up your life for the gospel…
But the man is trying them out; putting those oxen to the test to see if they are useful for his service. It’s the same with Timothy. Like a tested ox, Timothy is of proven worth. He’s useful for Paul’s service.
APP: If only I could be but a useful ox for the Lord! Is that your mindset, is that your desire; do you want that?
TRANS: Well, is your life advancing the gospel or hindering it? Timothy has proven worth…and he has proven worth because his life is advancing the gospel. Look at…
service with Paul in the furtherance of the gospel
Philippians 2:22 22 But you know of his proven worth, [what’s that worth?…] that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.
Timothy served faithfully in the capacity God called him to; he would pastor in Ephesus…he was willing even to be circumcised as a grown man so that the Jews wouldn’t stumble; his mother was a Jew. He watched Paul get beaten and scourged for the cause of Christ….for the interests of Christ! And served with Paul anyway!
Or to illustrate proven worth…it’s like when Barnabas and Paul had that sharp disagreement in Acts 15:39 And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.
Why the disagreement? Because Mark had deserted them earlier in the mission. Paul didn’t want him…although he would be restored to Paul later; to Paul, Mark didn’t prove himself to be of worthy service.
But that’s not Timothy! He’s a proven servant.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Philippians 2.19-24
Look, you don’t need to get ahead in this life; that’s a lie you’re believing as you compare yourselves with others! Are you willing to give up all your ambitions, dreams, plans and wishes…and lay them at the foot of the glorious cross? … that cross on which the prince of glory died … My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride”…utter disdain at my audacity to buck at anything of his will for me….that my heart isn’t passionate over Christ’s things…I pour utter disdain over the lack of warmth in my heart over those things that interest Christ…is that your heart?
Are you pleading with Christ to make you a servant of great worth? “Make me useful O God!”
Have you lost it all for Christ? Mark 8:35 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
Is your life a furtherance of the gospel … of the glorious work of Christ on the cross…a furtherance to give forth the truth of Christ…a furtherance of the fragrance of Christ as you grow in Him and walk with Him everyday?
Let’s mimic Timothy and learn to live a life of selfless service.
D. A. Carson, Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996), 69–70. ↑
Mark Minnick sermon notes; tehe! ↑