For All Seek Their Own
In a country so blessed by the material wealth of prosperity,
the church finds itself in the midst of prosperous decline. I believe it was
President Garfield who summed up the problems of his day when he observed that
our country was founded on the pursuit of happiness and when the happiness was
attained - we didn't know what to do with it.
It is hard to believe we can be cursed by blessings. Our world can so consume us that we fail to properly weigh our needs of spirituality and the gain of the world. Even the apostle Paul admitted the world of his time took so many hearts away from the service of the Lord.
Writing to the "saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons," he encourages them with the knowledge of Timothy's arrival. He commends this young man in Philippians 2:20,21 with these words: "For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus." Paul could rely upon Timothy as he was not like others in his service to Christ. Their souls were alike in their love of the truth and zeal for the work of God. The heart of Paul bonded with the heart of Timothy for the same cause.
In contrast, the others to whom Paul refers were seeking their own things of life. Their lives were filled with the pursuits of life. The concern of the gospel was not paramount in their lives. Christ Jesus was a part of their lives but a small part. Paul could not rely upon them to carry the message of encouragement.
The interest of these individuals was upon their own needs and wishes. It is not to be inferred these action were evil but by the nature of being busy about their own lives, failed to give proper time to the Kingdom of God. The action of 'seeking' is found in the idea of what they are thinking and what they are looking for in life. There was little time for Christ in their lives.
Jehovah warned his people long ago about becoming so involved in
their 'good life' to forget Him. "So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings
you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses
full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did
not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant - when you have eaten
and are full -- then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the
land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. You
shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name." (Deuteronomy 6:10-13)
This reads like a newspaper from 1999. God has blessed this country with so many wonderful blessings. We have houses full of good things and comfort unknown in past generations. Ease is the order of the day and abundance is all around us. The world is orderly and pleasant in its surroundings.
There is no fear of harm that would come upon us as we worship our God. Facilities are offered to the highest degree of comfort. Bibles are printed in great number, computers offer opportunities to learn more and through various means of media we can seek more knowledge about God's word than ever before. And we still seek our own.
The key to Paul's statement in Philippians 2:21 is the contrast between what is the focal point of life: our own needs versus the things of Christ Jesus. He is not implying that all should become preachers. What Paul needed to do was to send someone to Philippi - and people were just to busy with their own lives to be bothered.
Our lives can be busy with many good and helpful things. The contrast is to view our lives in light of service to God. When one obeys the gospel of Christ, it is more than seeking the forgiveness of sins. The negative side of obedience is found in the removal of sins. The positive side of obedience is seen in the willingness to obey the will of God.
Can we say we are walking in the light if only we seek the remission of sins? Walking in the light is working in the vineyard. There is much work to be done and workers are needed. "Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest ... The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few." (John 4:35; Matthew 9:37)
W. D. Longstaff wrote a song called "Take Time To Be Holy." This song is sung in churches of the Lord throughout our country and yet I am afraid we practice it too little. It takes time to be holy and to speak with the Lord. It takes time to make friends of God's children and to help those who are weak. It takes time to think about the "things of Christ Jesus."
I need to daily examine my life and see where my time and energy is spent. Do I seek my own in my life? Can I be a part of the work of the Lord in this place? How much time do I spend doing the work of the Lord in a week? This does not mean the four hours of worship - it means spending time in other ways to help the church grow.
The one talent man of Matthew 25 was not condemned for immorality. He was cast into outer darkness for minding his own things and not the things of the Lord. Our lives are shaped by the will of God living daily in our lives, working tirelessly for His cause and being counted worthy of being said, "For I Have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state."
By Kent E. Heaton Sr.
From Expository Files 7.4; April 2000