PHILIPPIANS-SERIES NR 10
Theme: Shifting focus
Scripture : PHILIPPIANS 2 : 19 – 30
Everything is about Timothy and Epaphroditus!! Now this is one of those paragraphs in Paul’s letters we should not underestimate! Should we read it quickly, it does not look like more than travel plans on Paul’s part. It is actually information he could communicate either at the beginning or at the end of the letter, but the fact that he is mentioning it here specifically, gives it greater meaning. And remember: It is the Lord’s Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit…
BECAUSE the Apostle is making these announcements exactly in this place, means that it is in reality an expansion and further example of what he said in the previous paragraphs about a Christian’s practical life worthy of the Gospel message, and also about the Lord Jesus’ example of being a servant by leaving heaven, coming to earth, becoming human, degradation unto death. The Servant par excellence!
WHAT DOES THE CHRISTIAN’S LIFE LOOK LIKE IN PRACTICE . What does a holy Christian life look like in practice? What does it look like when someone lives out of an encounter with the Lord Jesus? Answer: You become a servant! The practical life of a Christian starts to look more and more like Jesus’ life on earth. Being a servant!
We see something of that in this paragraph – in the information the Apostle gives about Timothy and Epaphroditus! He wanted to send both men to the church in Philippi for the sake of the mutual spiritual edification of the Philippians and himself.
And now just look how wonderful it is: In only the few sentences Paul talks about his fellow-worker Timothy, we learn something of what it means to live a practical life for Christ, to live for the gospel with dignity.
Paul was eager to send Timothy to the church in Philippi. He was longing to know how they were getting on, but he also wanted to see that they were continued to be ministered in the Lord.
We know that Timothy was Paul’s close fellow-worker in the Gospel. They were one in soul, one in heart, one in priority. Like Paul, Timothy’s first priority was the matters of the Lord, and therefore the welfare of the church, the believers, the people.
Here is the truth that we learn from Timothy’s life: Love for the Lord Jesus inevitably leads to love for other people. The believer is included in Christ and therefore shares HIS love. Over and over, Timothy proved himself as a faithful servant who certainly never looked after or served his own interests.
And what about Epaphroditus? Paul wanted to send him to the Philippian church immediately – most probably also to deliver the letter (he was busy writing) at the same time.
Epaphroditus was 1) a brother – thus a true Christian, 2) spiritual worker, 3) fellow-worker/soldier who contended against all opposition against the gospel-message. To him it was only about the LORD and about the welfare of the CHURCH. That is why he had camel-knees. He was so burdened for the people that he prayed continuously. He was a prayer-warrior. Because remember: Prayer is a sign of profound dependence!
At one stage Epaphroditus became ill, and almost died. Possibly his illness became worse and worse because of his zeal, he could not find rest. He was prepared to lay down his life and die for the cause of the Lord. BUT: The Lord had mercy on him and healed him.
Bear in mind: Here we are already past the prime era of the apostles (as we see it portrayed in the book of Acts) where the Apostles and their fellow-workers could perform miracles left and right and heal people. That was peculiar only to that phase of the church’s inception. But later, healings and miracles were not a matter of course. Yes, the Lord still heals, but in answer to ordinary prayer, not by the laying-on of hands by an Apostle. That is why Paul did not heal Epaphroditus. He almost died. But, the Lord had mercy on him and he recovered.
The point is: Men and women like that – who would give their lives for the welfare of the church AND who are pray-ers – people like that must be held in high esteem in the church, according to Paul. They are people who look only in three directions: 1) Pour yourself out for the King, 2) take the Word to the unsaved 3) serve other Christians.
They simply never looked in a fourth direction: Themselves!
The cultivated heart of a servant is a heart that is focused on the Lord and the business of the Lord, and who is willing to be sent by Him, willing to be serviceable and willing to make sacrifices and put other people ahead of themselves to the glory of the Lord’s Name.
These things do not come to any of us by itself. The Holy Spirit must live in us and in His power, we must cultivate a servant-attitude.
Paul could say these things about both Timothy and Epaphroditus. And they could say it about him too. And it’s such a good summary of this paragraph.
When we place it in the context of the entire Philippian-letter, it sounds like this:
1 > We are saved and delivered by repenting and turning to God and starting to trust that Jesus redeemed us from the curse and wrath for sin by His death and resurrection. Then His Spirit lives in us and the Spirit works in us to live according to God’s will.
2) The repentant person is INCLUDED in the death and resurrection of Jesus. All my sin and iniquities have become His, and all His righteousness and holiness have become mine. My unholy live is upon Him, and His holy life is on me. I believe Him for it. I trust Him for it.
3 ) it has an effect on my everyday life: My focus shifts and swings away. Before I came to faith in Jesus, everything revolved around me and the world. Now I begin to look in 3 directions (1 pouring myself out for the King, 2 taking the Word to the unsaved 3 serving other Christians), and in one direction (myself) not at all! It is a supernatural change! New creation. New person!
In the USA there is a church building with only one entrance which leads to the auditorium. And above that entrance there is a sign with the following words on it: “Servants entrance”.
There is no other way to enter or exit that church other than to pass those words.
That reminds everyone that every child of God is called to serve the Lord as servant and with the heart of a servant. There is no one present in that church building who is merely there to warm the pews.
It is like a sports team. Every team member has a task.
Or think of the difference between a passenger-liner and a fishing boat.
Passenger-liner > The majority of people pay a fee and then they lie in the sun and is served by others. It is the minority who are serving. Only the crew.
Fishing boat > Every person on board has a task and a responsibility to be serviceable. There are no passengers.
A NON-serving Christian is a contradiction in terms. According to Scripture you cannot write the words “Christian” and “non-serving” alongside one another.
Translated by Marthie Wilson