8 February 2018

Hello and welcome to Thursday’s podcast, my name’s Bryony and I do really hope you are finding the podcasts encouraging this week as we press into Paul’s teaching on selflessness and how we position ourselves in relation to others. Today we follow this theme through Chapter 2 of Philippians.

REFLECTION

Here’s a question to begin today. How would you like to be introduced? Here’s the scene: you are a key-note speaker at a big event. You are an expert in your field and the MC stands up and welcomes you to the stage. They begin introducing you to the audience. What would you want them to say? Would you want them to describe your education, maybe list of a few awards you’ve won? Would they say how much people respect and like you? Maybe they’ll pay homage to your quick wit or welcoming demeanor?

How would you like to be introduced? Introductions matter, they set the stage, they set your expectations of the person you are about to meet.

Introductions also show you something of what the person doing the introducing values. An introduction which reads like a CV might suggests a high value on achievement and accolades.

So what do we learn about Paul as he introduces his good friend and disciple Timothy? Paul is sending Timothy to the Philippian church because he wants Timothy to work with them to encourage and spur them on. In this case you might be forgiven for thinking that Paul has missed a trick in his introduction. He could have told them Timothy was an excellent teacher or that he was a very devout man. These attributes (which are no doubt true) would have introduced Timothy to the church as someone they should listen to and respect. But no, Paul introduces Timothy like this;

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.

Paul’s highest praise of Timothy is that he shows genuine love for the church family. Paul has experienced Timothy’s love, help and service first-hand and he want the Philippians to know that he is sending Timothy because he has this kind of heart. It should cause us to think back to the poem we read on Tuesday about Jesus’ nature as a servant. Servitude, the putting of others before oneself, is a theme again repeated by Paul. It’s like he is saying ‘the very reason I am sending Timothy to you is because he puts this stuff into action’. This week we’ve talked about valuing others over ourselves, preferring one another, we’ve thought about the nature of servants. In essence what we’ve been looking at is selfishness versus selflessness. Paul is serious about these things. And for him Timothy epitomises this selfless nature.

The result of being loved in this way, of having someone show ‘genuine concern for your welfare’ is that you feel known, you feel valued. That is what most people, deep down, want. We all want to know we belong, that someone notices us. That we are loved.

I was once part of a cell group where the leaders gave us all a notebook on the first week and asked us to write down everybody’s prayer requests each week. Every cell group we would arrive with our notebook and when we came to pray for one another we would write each person’s name next to their prayer point. The idea was that you could refer to this book during the week to help you to pray specifically for your friends. The knock on effect was that it also provided an excellent record for which to draw testimonies as prayers were answers. This cell group had a profound effect on me, there was something amazingly powerful about knowing there were people at home during the week praying for me, my name, specifically. I felt known, I felt loved, I felt like I belonged.

Today I wonder how we could look for way to make others feel loved, cared for and known. Maybe it’s something as simple as an encouraging text or a simple invite to dinner. As we spend this year exploring what it means to build community, let’s be a community where people experience real love. A place of belonging from which people can experience God’s spirit and transformation.

PRAYER

Lord, thank you for this reminder that titles, accolades and qualifications are never as important as the state of our hearts and the way we love people. Help us to be a community of genuine care and love. A place where people can belong, be known and find transformation.

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.