The Expository Files

 

A Good Young Man

 Philippians 2:19-24



19But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. 22But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. 23Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. 24But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly. Phil. 2:19-24


This letter was from the apostle Paul to the church at Philippi. But this section is about the young man whose life was devoted to Christ, therefore of great value to the Christians in Philippi.

Background
Timothy’s name means, “one who honors God.” He was a native of Lystra (Paul and Barnabas had visited in conjunction with their First Missionary Journey.) It is very possible that in that visit by gospel preachers to his hometown, Timothy heard and obeyed the gospel, having been raised to respond to God’s Word by his mother and grandmother. Paul apparently wanted to help develop this young man into a faithful Christian and gospel preacher, so Timothy became Paul’s “son in the faith.” The potential for maturity became a reality as Timothy became a close, trusted associate of the apostle Paul. And of great importance to Christians in Ephesus, Philippi, Corinth and other places.

And would you consider, he is left behind in Berea to continue the work after Paul is forced to leave because of threats against his life (Acts 17:14). During a time of persecution he is sent to Thessalonica to strengthen the believer in their faith (1 Thess. 3:1-3). He is sent to Macedonia from Ephesus with a similar mission (Acts 19:22). He is sent as Paul’s helper to bring teaching and edification to the troubled church in Corinth (1 Cor. 4:17-21). He is apparently sent to Philippi and perhaps returns with a monetary gift from that church from Paul (Phil. 2:19; 4:15-16; Acts 18:5). He is instructed how to appoint elders and deacons in the churches (1 Tim. 3). He accompanies Paul on his last trip to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4). He is as close to Paul as he can be, in Paul’s final days.

One of the great friendships of the Bible and one of the meaningful examples of how the older can lead the younger and how the younger can comfort the older is found in this Paul-Timothy model. Let’s study this.

“But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly…”


I believe we need to connect dots here. Paul’s faith in Christ is connected to his desire to send Timothy. What is that about? When you believe in Christ, your confidence in Him compels you to rely on others who place their confidence in Him. Paul is not going to send an unbeliever to the church at Philippi. Working for Christ; preaching Christ and edifying Christians – of course, when Paul needs to send someone, he will send a believer in Christ.

But, will he send just any believer? No. Paul’s trust in Christ compelled him to send one who was equipped for the task, a strong, faithful young man like Timothy (enabled by Christ as Paul was, see 1 Tim. 1:12). And one result would be, Paul would be encouraged. Paul would feel better about his brethren, sending Timothy and then hearing from Timothy about their state.

What a valuable, desirable situation presented to us here. To have good young men who can be trusted to do their best work, to conduct themselves with integrity and take up the work of Christ, based on their trust in Him. Not just blindly imitate the former generation, but dig deep for knowledge, rise above any party loyalty and just preach the truth and live the truth. We need such men today in greater numbers, men who are fit for the Master’s use.

How many young men do you know, who want to preach the gospel; who want to use their time and their lives spreading the truth?

“For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.”


Have you ever heard the expression, “a dime a dozen!” That means there are many (of whatever you are talking about), and they are easy to get! The supply is not exhausted; finding and acquiring is not difficult.

Young men like Timothy, in the first century, were not “a dime a dozen.” They were hard to find. Fact is, they were so rare Paul said, “I have no one like-minded,” (NIV: “I have no one else like him!”) You don’t find young men like Timothy on every corner, in every family, or in every church – not in large numbers at least. Paul said, “I have no one else like him.” But Paul doesn’t leave that as a vague statement; he explains that Timothy is the kind of man who sincerely cares.

It is not original to me but you have heard or read this often: People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Now I think Timothy enjoyed a high level of knowledge. His mother and grandmother taught Him from the Scriptures. Timothy’s time with Paul, no doubt, involved much study and learning and maturing in knowledge. But Timothy had something alongside his knowledge – and that was, sincerity and care for people!

There is nothing as cold as a man with knowledge and skill in imparting knowledge, but who doesn’t really care about people! That is a fatal flaw in a gospel preacher. But the damage is present also in any Christian, who is high on knowledge, but neutral or low in their care for people. Not a good match.

Timothy was a young gospel preacher who knew what he was talking about but also, cared about who he was talking to! And in this virtue he was imitating the Master Teacher, Jesus Christ. It can be said of Jesus: He loved the Father; He loved and knew the Father’s will. But likewise Jesus loved people, and that love had such maturity and such depth – He suffered and died for people.

Paul was a very caring person, and now Timothy follows that pattern in his thinking and responding to people and their needs. We must acquire the knowledge, but also – develop the heart of love and care for people – that will equip us to reach people and help them, in their journey toward God. And if we ever just focus on knowledge, and neglect this love and care for people, we will die spiritually. And, at the core of what we are talking about is – an attitude of unselfish humility (see Phil. 2:1-5).

“For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.”

Those who “seek their own” are a dime a dozen. You don’t have to look around too far to find people who are self-seeking. That’s the attitude of the world, and has always been the root of sin – self-seeking. Paul’s confidence in Timothy included his awareness that TIMOTHY WASN’T LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE. He was rare, because of the activity of his faith in Christ. He was not the kind of man – who just looks out for his own interests!!

If we could fill churches and families with this unselfish humility, with people who do not seek their own, we cannot begin to imagine the good we would see to the glory of God; and the growth that would take off. Timothy was the kind of person who did not seek his own interests but, the last part of verse 21 says, “the things which are of Christ Jesus.”

What are those things? What are “the things which are of Christ Jesus,” or in the NIV: THE INTERESTS OF JESUS CHRIST?

Respecting and glorifying the Creator. Appreciating and being a recipient of His grace. Learning and obeying His truth. Teaching and helping others toward God. Rejecting the appeal of the world, by embracing and participating in the things that are holy and right and eternal.

These things Timothy had on his mind every day, and he was, therefore, motivated – not to serve himself, but devoted to the interests of Jesus Christ. This is why Paul sent him.

Phil. 2:22-24

“But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.”

I like that expression as it appears in the NKJ, “proven character.” In the NIV, “Timothy has proved himself.” Let’s consider that carefully: Knowledge can be acquired and remembered. Association with good people can be claimed and documented. Character is proven! It is demonstrated through daily behavior and as that behavior becomes consistent, it is clear: the person has character.

Character is who you are inside – including thoughts, motives, will, care and affection. There must be knowledge to form and guide character. But character is more than just knowledge. It is the personal application of knowledge inside that shows itself in consistent daily behavior. Paul trusted Timothy because of his “proven character.”

Each one of us should be involved with God and His Word – with such purpose – we develop “proven character.” It includes everything observed about Timothy in this passage: the sincere care, the devotion to Christ and the willingness to be sent and used in the cause of Christ. “Proven character” should be emerging in us – a little more every day.

So Paul said to the church at Philippi: Here is the man for the job. Here’s the preacher I trust.

19But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. 22But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. 23Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. 24But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly. Phil. 2:19-24


Reading this text in Philippians about Paul and Timothy; and reading 1,2 Timothy – there is certainly a host of powerful directions and applications for young men and for gospel preachers. All preachers should read 1, 2 Timothy over and over. All who listen to preachers and deal with preachers, should read the story of Timothy and Paul’s direction to Timothy – repeatedly.

But the story reaches outside those who preach and teach and lead – to all of us, speaking to us of these traits of character that should be proven and seen in each of us. And these are things you must work on for a lifetime. Unselfish humility – leading you to sincerely care for people, and to devote yourself – not to your own things, but to the things of Christ.

And parents! If you are impressed by Timothy. If you admire how he developed and you see the value of his proven character . . .

Listen to this – 2 Tim. 3:14-15.
14But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

You want to raise a Timothy? Start early. Enable them to learn Scripture and be certain they see Scripture applied in you! Be the mother and grandmother Timothy had.

If parents, preachers, elders and all other Christians will find young Christian men and develop them as Paul developed Timothy, the results will be visible, valuable and pleasing to God.

 

By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 17.10; October 2010

 

 

 

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