Today's passage is Philippians 2:19-30. Let's go!
A big theme in the book of Philippians is humbly putting others before yourself for Christ's sake.
In chapter 1 Paul talks about how personally he wished he could depart and go to heaven now, but for the benefit of his church he is committed to staying. Paul was putting the interests of his church ahead of his own.
In chapter 2:1-18 Paul talks about how Jesus put our interests ahead of his own. Although he was in very nature God, he took on the nature of a servant and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.
Now in these verses Paul cites two more men who exemplified this same attitude of humbly putting others before themselves. They are Timothy and Epaphroditus.
Philippians 2:19-21 (NIV)
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.
20 I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.
21 For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
On verses 19-24: Remember that in Paul's time there was no Face Time, Skype, e-mail, social media, radio or even telephones. So the only way to send messages over long distances was to send letters with individuals who could be trusted to deliver those messages personally. Here Paul indicates his hope to send his disciple and son in the faith Timothy to his church in Philippi. That way Timothy could let the church in Philippi know how Paul is doing and also receive news from the church that he can bring back to Paul.
In talking about Timothy, Paul commends him. He says that Timothy has "proved himself" (v22); in other words, Timothy has shown himself to be highly trustworthy and Christ-like. For while "everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ" (v21), Paul commends Timothy by saying that "I have no one like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare" (v20). Paul compares his relationship with Timothy to that between a father and a son as they have served together (v22).
What can we learn from this? When Paul needed a responsible, trustworthy messenger to send a message about himself to the Philippians, he sent his spiritual son Timothy. Similarly, when God needed a responsible, trustworthy messenger to send a message about Himself to us, God sent His Son Jesus Christ. Now those of us who have received and believed that message have become messengers ourselves to those who have not heard or understood. May we, like Timothy, be known as Christ-like, credible and trustworthy messengers of the One who sent us.
Philippians 2:25, 29-30 (NIV)
25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs...
29 Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him,
30 because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.
On verses 25-30: Epaphroditus was a Christian brother who was sent by the church in Philippi to Rome to take care of Paul (v25) and to bring a financial gift from the church to Paul (see Philippians 4:18). However, during that time, Epaphroditus became deathly ill (v27). It was a tough and anxious time for everyone involved. Fortunately, Ephaphroditus recovered (v27b). Paul thought it best to send him back home to Philippi, "so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety" (v28). Paul tells his church in Philippi to honour men like Epaphroditus who almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to help Paul (v29-30).
What can we learn from this? Honour those who risk and sacrifice themselves in Christ-like ways so that the church can move forward.
Heavenly Father, just as Paul sent Timothy, just as the Philippians sent Epaphroditus, thank You for every person You have sent as a messenger of Your love to me. Thank You for their Christ-like words and actions and for all the ways they humbly put me before themselves, to show me what You are like. May I show them the honour and respect that they deserve. May I too be a trustworthy, Christ-like messenger of You to those around me. In Jesus' name, AMEN!