Good morning and welcome to Wednesday’s podcast. I hope that you are feeling the benefit of taking some time out of your day to join us on the STC podcast.
Today we continue through Philippians chapter 2. Over the last two days we have looked at the qualities that God is looking to cultivate in our relationships and what we do when the boss’s back is turned: are we ‘all in’ or do we slack off?
Today, in Chapter 2 verses 19-24, Paul isn’t so much teaching or giving instructions to the Christian community in Philippi; instead he is writing about his desire to send Timothy to visit. This is what Paul has to say about his friend and apprentice,
I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
There is no-one like Timothy… He will show genuine concern… not like everyone else who are concerned only with themselves.
What an awesome guy… pretty unique… how many people do we know who we could say the same thing about?
The trouble is that this reveals the heart of what it means to be a Christian. To be a Christian is to develop this selfless quality in our lives. To follow Jesus is to take up our cross daily and follow him. On the cross, Jesus gave up his own life to save others. He chose to put our relationship with God before his own welfare. We are called to do the same.
So this is less about what we do and more about what motivates us to do it.
And during his early ministry, Jesus often called out the Pharisees on their motivation… the heart with which they did what they did. There is a Pharisee in all of us. In Matthew 6 Jesus says
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”
In the same chapter Jesus says the exact same thing about prayer and fasting: if we do it for reward or honour then that is the only reward we will get. Do it in secret where no-one will know and our reward will be in heaven.
You see we all like to look good. We all like others to think well of us and so our motivation can easily become all about us, no matter how noble the cause.
When we care, is it really about the other person, is it really an act of love? Do we serve for our own benefit, or the benefit of others?
Timothy has heard the call to take up his cross and follow Jesus. He has worked alongside Paul and has worked this principle into his life. The command that started out as a discipline, soon became a habit and grew further and became an unconscious way of life. Timothy became pretty selfless. He was not concerned about his own welfare, finances, health, how he looked to others or his own future, he knew that as he put others first God would take care of him. In so doing he learnt how to seek first the kingdom of God. So, tried and tested at Paul’s side, he knew that Timothy’s concern would be for the believers in Philippi alone.
For me, there is so much of my life that feels a lot like a to-do list. Remember to smile, remember to pray for my person of peace, remember to give, remember to put some food in the food bank collection, remember to contact that person who is unwell, remember to talk about God with those I meet.
This is the discipline, the practice that will become habit if we persist… we too can develop the same selfless heart of love that seeks the good of others before tending to our own needs. As our hearts mature we will need to ‘do’ less mission as he would leak more and more from every fibre, every action of our lives?
As we devote ourselves to developing a life of forgiveness, love and selfless generosity, in time how much more will our neighbours, friends and work colleagues sit up and take notice?
I don’t know about you, but to me this sounds a lot like the ‘better life’. This sounds like something we need discipling in… this sounds like something that we have to offer the world as a different, counter cultural, way of life. It’s how we stop the cycle of hurt, pain, fear and retaliation.
Bible studies are great… but they seldom take root and produce this kind of fruit, this kind of character. For that, as we saw yesterday, we need to work out our healing – our salvation – enabled and energised by the Holy Spirit.
So today, let’s take up the challenge, let’s serve those around us… let’s do it quietly, under the radar, not to be seen by anyone, not even so we have a good story to tell our cell group. Let’s be determined to practice forgiveness, generosity and self-sacrificial love… seeking first the kingdom and trusting God will provide all we need.
Who’s with me?
Father, thank you for the example of Paul and Timothy. Thank you that it is possible to lay down our own self interested and genuinely put others first. Today we hear the call afresh in our own lives. Help us to recognise the condition of our own hearts and lead us along your narrow path to life. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Philippians 2:19-24
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.