A Christlike Example Worth Watching & Following
Christians can be the worst examples for the worlds to watch and follow after! Unsaved people on many occasions say “There is nothing different about your life than mine.” Mahatma Ghandi said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Sadly! The world is turned off by the phony Christianize of people who say they’re Christians. Bonhoeffer called this life of Christianity “Cheap grace.” See! If this is the response you get by the world around you when they watch your life, then I hope you pay close attention to what Paul says here. If you’re unsaved here this morning, please don’t reject Christ and the church based on poor representation.
The Apostle Paul wants us to take a look at an authentic version of Christianity and he demonstrates this with the example of Timothy and Epaphroditus. These men are prime examples for us; to watch, and follow after. Understand! The Christian life is meant to be a life of passion and commitment and love for others to know Christ and His saving grace. Paul moves from biblical instruction and essentials… to life living illustrations. Basically! From orthodoxy to orthopraxy. Just as the world needs to see Christ, and hear the gospel, they also need to see your life illustrating that wonderful truth through the gospel confession. We see Timothy the devoted preacher to the church of God, and Epaphroditus the devoted layperson to the body of Christ. These two men were humble, other-focused servants, who provided a shining example of the gospel confession. We could say they knew what it meant to live a life “worthy of the Gospel”
What should my life illustrate to a world
to watch and follow after?
A Life Of Daily Self Sacrifice (V19)
This was a very unpopular time to be associated with the Apostle Paul. Yet this did not stop Timothy from staying by Paul’s side despite Paul’s circumstances. When everyone else left, Timothy stayed and was preparing to go to the people at Philippi. Some 800 miles one way and then to return to Paul with the news. Like Paul who placing his own achievements, even his possible martyrdom at a very low point on the scale of Christian service….Timothy did the same! Its faithfully obeying the Scripture when Paul said “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Rom 12:1. We, too, need to be self-sacrificing for the sake of the gospel and one another. We, too, need to be long lasting in our relationships with one another, and not runaway at the first sign of trouble or hardships. Our lives are to seek the interests of others for the sake of the gospel. It’s self-sacrificing for sake of Kingdom building.
A Like-Mindedness That Is J.O.Y Focused (V20)
J.O.Y meaning….Jesus, then others and then yourself. Timothy was a man of “kindred spirit”........this phrase literally means “equalled souled or one souled” which refers to like-mindedness. The true goal of a disciple of Jesus Christ is reproduction. As Jesus said “it is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master” Matt 10:25 Steve Lawson said, Timothy, stood out like a “rare jewel to Paul.” Paul and Timothy had a great relationship from the time of Timothy’s conversion in Acts 16. In Paul’s Pastoral Epistles he calls Timothy “his child or son” “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Tim 2:1. This is the depth of the love that Paul had for his young and growing protégé. Paul trusted in Timothy because they had the same passions and concerns for the church and the gospel. This goes back to what Paul has already said in his letter. (Phil 1:27). Paul trusted Timothy because of his genuine faithfulness. Paul said “For I have no one like him.” (v20) Paul looked out and did a spiritual survey in Rome and he couldn’t find anyone whom he deemed of like “soul or mind”. There was no one like Timothy! It’s someone who is “concerned for your welfare.” (v20) “Concerned” This is a strong expression of feeling; it’s being burdened to the point that you must do something about it. Timothy learned the art of putting others before himself. This is a beautiful example of an enlarged heart for others. Because it’s a genuine and authentic. This is who Paul trusted; while others were only seeking their own interests. (Phil 1:17). If we are to be profitable servants, we must be self-denying and not self-focused. Timothy followed the servant’s role of Jesus who “made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant.” (Phil 2:7) It’s the gospel that separates the like-mindedness from selfishness and the phony.
A Proven Testimony Of The Grace Received (V22)
Timothy stood the test which resulted in him gaining a positive result with the people of Philippi. “Know of his proven worth” (v22) it’s like testing metal by putting it in a furnace in order to reveal if it’s a genuine metal or an imitation. See! If it were false the substance would dissolve, if it was real like true gold or silver, the precious metal would remain. Impurities would be smelted and the genuine metal would be all that was left. The true metal became purer as a result of going through the fire. Paul used the same word elsewhere in his writings “For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.” 2 Cor 2:9. The church in Corinth was subject to testing to see if they were going to be obedient and obey the counsel of the Lord. Timothy was such a man of integrity that he clearly demonstrated a genuine, proven testimony that the people could trust. This is where the world see’s if you’re truly a Christian? If you or I are to be useful to the Lord, it will require that you be battle tested. Timothy was tested many times in his service for the Lord going back to Acts 16 and Acts 17 as he went to the churches on Paul’s behalf. Both Timothy and Epaphroditus had that heart to serve to the point of exhaustion even to the point of death (v30) And this should apply to you and me as well without excuses. Our character and our actions should line up according to what God’s word says, not according to Mike or the culture. These men would roll up their sleeves and expend energy for the sake of others and the gospel. They served and cared for others like Christ would serve and care for others. This means being present, speaking truth, strengthening the weak, praying for others, selfless service and providing support and resources for those who needed it. We are to be walking testimonies of the wonderful grace that God gives to sinners like you and me.
We are to be a light, an influence to a godless generation, by pursuing a life of obedience and godliness for others to watch and follow.
A Dedication To The Gospel Message (V22)
This is someone who is submissive to the Lord and His message of hope. It’s that life that gives God the glory in every situation whether good or bad. It’s that life that eats and breaths the gospel because they know the power it has to change a sinner’s life. As Paul said “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Rom 1:16. Let me ask you! Are you ashamed of the gospel or afraid of what might happen
if you express your love for it?
We are to be dedicated to Him above all else....whether it is family....church...career or pleasure! We are to obedient servants of the Lord, until the day we depart this world. That’s why Paul had confidence in Timothy and Epaphroditus because of their love and faithfulness to the Gospel and the power it brings. John MacArthur says in his commentary “from the time the apostle chose him to serve alongside him, Timothy surrendered any personal plans he may have had for his life. He began a non-stop adventure that would bring him great fruitfulness and spiritual satisfaction, but that would also involve suffering and sacrifice.”
A Serving Soldier Of Christ (V25)
It’s that idea of standing on the front lines side by side. Working together as a team, striving to keep the church together as we reach for the goal of unity and joy for furtherance of the Gospel to the surrounding area. That being a light in a dark and sinful world, on the frontline in battle. It’s that soldier that won’t retreat when times get tough or awkward. It’s not going AWOL on your church family because of selfish reasons or laziness. As Solomon wrote “The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.” Prov 20:4. Lazy Christian’s reap nothing for the Kingdom of God. What we do for the Lord in this life is all that matters. Paul said “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” 2 Tim 2:3-4. All believers should be like this because those who are in Christ are saved to serve.
A Persevering Life Worthy Of Honor (V28-30)
“Esteem” means: “to honor according to their value; to regard highly or favourably; regarding someone with respect or admiration.” Paul says “Esteem those who live for others and their well being, acknowledge there service and sacrifice” This is a life that is concerned for the souls around them despite what they are going through in their own personal life. (v27) “Risking” literally means “to throw aside”, it speaks of freely hazarding one’s welfare and thereby exposing oneself to danger. Epaphroditus disregarded his own welfare; he continued to put his life on the line for the work of Christ. Paul says! Acknowledge their hard work and sacrifices they make for the church and for others. Sometimes it can be a simple word of encouragement for those who serve you with their lives for the gospel confession. Maybe a little note of thanks for their dedication and care for you. Praying for the strength and protection of those who serve faithfully in the church and the community.
Esteem those who fear the Lord.
Esteem those who are partakers of the Gospel.
Esteem those who worship the doctrine of God.
Esteem those who serve heartily unto the Lord.
Esteem those who labour for the sake of your soul.
Esteem those who go before the throne of grace on your behalf.
Esteem those who will receive the crown of life.
As James said “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12. We know that public ministry whether you’re the shepherd or the lay person must be used to glorify Christ in looking out for the interest of others. The Christian life is difficult at times but by the example of these men we can find encouragement and comfort to watch and follow after. We serve an amazing God who will always help us when things seem overwhelming and when we feel like throwing in the towel (or giving up). We serve a God who has defeated, conquered, who is victorious over the grave and Hell. We too, by God’s grace, can live a life worthy of the gospel as citizens of the Kingdom.
As John Piper said "God is not an employer looking for employees. He is an Eagle looking for people who will take refuge under his wings. He is looking for people who will leave father and mother and homeland or anything else that may hold them back from a life of love under the wings of Jesus."
The church has been blessed throughout the centuries by unsung heroes like these men. And the church will continue to tell stories like this for generations to come to watch and follow after. Paul was the bold, fearless leader, Timothy his quiet, devoted assistant and Epaphroditus a diligent, behind the scenes worker. These men displayed the most important characteristic of a godly leader.
A life worthy to observe and imitate