Good morning church! We continue our exciting series titled “A Joy-filled life” as we go through the book of Philippians. Last week we learnt that as we joyfully obey God, we are called to fight the sin of grumbling and arguing. But after these instructions, we see Paul’s tender and the affectionate concern being listed in today’s passage in Philippians 2:19-24:
19 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[d] proven worth, how as a son[e] 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.
I couldn’t wrap my head around this. When I was a brand-new believer in the Lord, I started going to this youth group. I could remember the way I felt like a new believer! It was so comforting and enjoyable to fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ.
But a few months after that my priorities changed. And as much as I wanted to fellowship with other believers and study the Bible, I also wanted to also be part of the church choir and make great music with them. There happened a time when the timings for both meetings clashed and I had to make a choice and I chose the choir.
But one of the leaders from the youth group continued to follow up with me twice or sometimes thrice a week. And he used to come back from work late each night and would call me and speak to me for hours. Quite a few times I’ve managed to put him to sleep with my talk! I still didn’t understand why he would still call me even though I didn’t go to the youth group.
It was something strange and different for me as a new believer. For the first time, I experienced genuine concern for my faith and my life. So a couple of questions I want us to think over as we start: Is genuine concern for your brothers and sisters important? What does it look like for you and me to genuinely have concern for each other?
1. We were created to have a CONCERN for each other
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.
Why was Paul so concerned? Why did he need news from them to be cheered up? We realize even though the Philippian church loved Jesus and partnered with Paul in the spread of the gospel they were still going through a lot of issues.
There was Internal Disunity – grumbling, arguing, pride, selfishness within the members of the church. If anyone’s still looking for a perfect church, just know that no church is going to be perfect until Christ returns! Just think what the Philippian church was going through. Not just that they were facing External Opposition – they were being persecuted by hostile unbelievers.
And Paul being their spiritual father is deeply concerned about them. These are my children whom I shared the gospel with. These are my children whom I nurtured. How are they doing? I can’t imagine what they are going through. Are they going to hold on to Christ after all this or are they going to crumble under the pressure and weight of sin & persecution?
It’s a beautiful passage where we see Paul intending to send Timothy to the church so that he can encourage and strengthen them in the Lord – so that they don’t lose faith – so that they don’t quit and abandon the Lord or the church. We see here a great design of what the church is. It’s not a building. It’s not an organization. It’s not an event. It is a FAMILY. It’s deep and committed. Not shallow and non-committal as the world sees relationships.
One of the biggest challenges to seeing our local church as a family is our APATHY! Apathy basically means “Who cares! I definitely don’t care”. Apathy ultimately finds its root in selfishness and pride.
In our selfishness, we’ll say “Why should we be concerned about this person? Doesn’t have anything to do with me. Why should I simply add extra stress in my life by being concerned and burdened about someone else?”
In our pride, we say “This other person got themselves in a mess due to their own decision. If I were in their place, I would do it differently. No reason for me to unnecessarily get involved now”.
I was convicted of my sin of apathy in this week only. And I had to realize that God’s design for us and our lives isn’t apathy. God design for us – is to show deep concern just like He is concerned.
In Ezekiel 34 – is one of the places where we see the great concern God has for us. God prophesies through Ezekiel and is deeply concerned because the leaders of Judah haven’t taken care of His sheep.
4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; 6 they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. (Ez 34:4-6)
Should we be apathetic when we know that our brother or sister is struggling with habitual sin? Should we be apathetic when we know that our brother or sister is struggling with finding their identity in Christ?
Should we be apathetic when we know that our brother or sister struggling with fear of failure and rejection? No, our desire should be like that of our Father. Deep concern.
I was really touched a few years back by a youth retreat that I had attended. It was conducted for students and I was a volunteer for the retreat. Now whenever I’ve gone for retreats, the main sessions were the main thing but out here I noticed that while the main sessions took place, a few leaders went aside to a room to pray.
I joined them on one of the mornings and was moved by what I saw. These leaders who have been ministering to these students for many months prayed with tears for each of the students individually. It didn’t feel planned or manipulative.
They were just expressing their concern for all the areas in which they wanted God to work in the lives of these students. Let’s pray and ask God to break the sin of apathy? Ask him to break our hearts for the things that break His own heart?
Not only are we created to have a burden for each other
2. We are called to sacrificially serve each other (v20-24)
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[d] proven worth, how as a son[e] 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.
I find it so interesting that Paul chooses to send Timothy to encourage the Philippians. Why does Paul do that? Why doesn’t he send anyone else?
Son in ministry & Faithful coworker: In Acts 16 we see the first time Timothy is mentioned there. When Paul comes to Lystra, Derbe and Iconium in what was known as his 2nd missionary journey, the believers from there spoke well of a person called Timothy.
Paul takes this passionate young believer under his wing on his missionary journey. You can imagine what’s going through the mind of young Timothy. Not knowing exactly how God would provide and what lies ahead of them, in faith he travelled and ministered with Paul for 20 years.
Let’s not forget that Timothy was with Paul when the church at Philippi was being founded. The church has seen his faithfulness as a co-worker which is why Paul could say to the church “you’ve seen Timothy’s proven worth”.
He didn’t just see the highs of ministry where people were getting saved and added to the church but he also saw suffering. Almost every city where they went, they were met with hostile opposition – beating, death threats and imprisonment. Despite all this, he stuck with Paul as a faithful, trusted son.
In Paul’s mind, this is the perfect guy who needs to go to the church in Philippi. This is my trusted son. My precious one. I have no one else like him. He is genuinely concerned for your welfare. So I am sending him to you. Does this sound familiar?
I think we can see the picture of the gospel at work here. When we were lost and scattered, when we rebelled against God, when we rejected him and went astray – Yet God didn’t turn the lights off on us – Instead He said I will send my trusted one. My precious Son.
I have no one else like Him. He is genuinely concerned for your welfare to the extent that He will lay down His life to save you!!
Earlier we read about the concern of God in Ezekiel 34…see what it says in v11
11 “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.
15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy.[a] I will feed them in justice.
Here is our God who just doesn’t have a concern in His heart and mind but also acts upon it. He comes after those who are lost and scattered. Even today if you think you are the lost sheep, just know that He pursues you still. He sent His Son to die for you.
He rose on the third day so that your relationship with God can be healed. You can turn back to Him and surrender your life totally today!
And that’s the main and only motivation to serve each other sacrificially. It’s because God did that to me – someone who didn’t deserve it at all. As God is building a heart of concern in you, He is also calling you to love and sacrifice what might be precious, costly to serve your brother or sister.
It might be our time, our convenience, our comfort, our resources but you will never know how over time God will use our faithfulness to strengthen a brother or sister’s faith.