What are the ingredients for faithful and fruitful service within the local church? The Apostle Paul points to two men who served sacrificially and selflessly on behalf of him and the church.; are we comfortable in our chairs or are we motivated by grace to step out and serve the Lord?
By Pastor Ben Hiwale
You’ve Got Mail! This slogan was made a household name by AOL. It resonated with us because we all love getting mail – not bills, but cards and letters. We all love reading our mail. There is a curiosity in most of us, as embarrassing it is to admit, to read other people’s mail. Many of the books of the Bible were addressed to someone; therefore you and I are reading someone else’s mail. No one is alive that can say that the book of Philippians was written to me personally, but it is relevant to all of us. It is one of the most encouraging letters in the Bible, and gives us a very close and personal view of Paul.
Much of Christian Character is caught as much it is taught. That is, it is picked up by constant association with mature Christians. The question that is addressed in this chapter isn’t – will we learn by watching others? rather – what will we learn and from whom we shall learn it? Who are your friends? Your friends are important because all of us tend to become like the people we associate with. If you hang around complainers, pretty soon you’ll start to complain. If your friends are selfish, their attitude will rub off on you. But if your friends are noble, their nobility will make you noble too.
Every person needs three types of friendships. Samuel – someone who makes us better, Jonathan – who gives Spiritual Strength and Nathan – who tells you the truth. Who are your heroes, the people you look to as role models? Tell me your heroes and I’ll tell you your values. Paul points to two men worth watching and following. We’ll get to them later, but first, let’s take a look at a passage about Jesus and his disciples.
Read John 6:66 – 68. There are going to be times in your life that we all are going to come across things that will make you think about “unfollowing” Jesus. Times of transition: high school to college, college to marriage, marriage to children. You are not unfollowing because it’s not true, very few people do that. People quit following because it’s too hard, it’s inconvenient and isolating, you’re all alone and it just doesn’t seem to matter. It’s relational as well, sometimes your relationship with Jesus gets in the way of you getting into a relationship with someone who is not a believer. Guys think, not everyone is beautiful, and anyone can become a Christian, so why not take a chance on this girl? This Jesus thing is just getting in the way.
Or maybe you have been praying and praying, believing and believing and it’s frustrating because God has been quiet. You thought if you obeyed things will work out and they haven’t. So you are tempted to unfollow. Peter, who as we know has a habit of putting his foot in his mouth, asks a question that I want to write on your mind, heart and soul today so that every time you get in that place of being tempted to unfollow or quit on Jesus you think about it. In that passage in John, Peter asks ” To whom shall we go?” When you choose not to follow Jesus, you are choosing to follow someone or something else. If not Jesus, who? If not Jesus, what? Think about this before you quit.
I have never heard someone say, my favorite verse is in Phil 2:19-30! It may seem to some that this passage may need an upgrade. One can be tempted to conclude that this is nothing but a little conversation between Paul, Timothy and the Philippian church. It seems that Paul is saying Timothy is on his way and Epaphroditus is coming soon. But as you zoom in, it is much more than a travel itinerary.
After the Exhortation and Imperatives in verses 12-18, Paul transitions from Imperatives to Living Illustrations. This goes back to the verse we saw a few weeks ago 1:27 – Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ. Or chapter 2:5 – Let the same mind be in you… they may have seemed like abstract thoughts before, but here Paul gives us a demonstration of what they mean.
Alexander Maclaren wrote, “Many a professing Christian life has a veneer of godliness nailed thinly over a solid bulk of selfishness.”
Sometimes we are just making a point and never making a difference. It is always easier to make a point than to make a difference.
A non-serving Christian is a contradiction of terms.
This passage: Speaks to 5 Broad Concepts
- People before Profits (19-21)
- Character before Conformity (22-24)
- Teamwork before Competition (25)
- Kingdom before Comfort (26-27)
- Service before Security (28-30)
Going back to the question this Text raises is: What shall we learn? And from Whom shall we learn it?
Who are the men that Paul points to as worthy of being your role models? Timothy and Epaphroditus. What we learn from Paul is that these men were:
If you have been praying and waiting on the Lord for you to show you how, where and when to serve then you must evaluate:
Are you Available to the Lord? To the Church He has placed you in? You must also evaluate if you are Sensitive, meaning genuinely interested in the welfare of others. Third, can everyone rely on you to complete the tasks you are given? What good is a person that is available but not sensitive, what good is a person that is available and sensitive but not reliable?
May the Lord lead you through this message to bear the fruit in His Kingdom.