Summary: Paul wrote some very encouraging things about Timothy and Epaphroditus that offer us excellent examples to follow.
A. One day a man went to the doctor because he was concerned about his lessening level of energy.
1. He told his doctor that he wasn't able to do all the things around the house that he used to do.
2. When the examination was complete, the man said to the doctor, “Now, Doc, I can take it. Tell me in plain English what is wrong with me.”
3. “Okay,” the doctor replied, “In plain English, you’re just lazy.”
4. “That’s a relief,” said the man, “Now give me the medical term so I can tell my wife.”
B. In the early years of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln became so frustrated with the inactivity of the Union general George McClellan that he wrote him this one sentence letter.
1. The letter said, “Dear General McClellan, If you don’t want to use the army, I should like to borrow it for a while. Respectfully, A. Lincoln.”
2. Isn’t that amazing, here was the general of an army, with vast resources of men and ammunition, and he was doing nothing with his resources.
C. How often do we see the same thing in the church?
1. Do we sometimes see people with the diagnosis the man received when he went to the doctor – you’re just lazy?
2. Do we sometimes see people who are highly gifted and equipped with resources, but are doing little or nothing with those resources for the cause of Christ?
3. Like Abraham Lincoln, I feel like sending them a note that says, “If you don’t want to use those abilities and resources, I should like to borrow them for a while.”
D. Why is it that more people don’t get involved in serving or giving in the church?
1. Well, I’m sure there are many reasons, and some of those reasons are legitimate and some reasons are better than others.
2. Sometimes, however, I notice that people don’t get involved because they think it is someone else’s responsibility.
3. They are like the two shipwrecked men in a leaky lifeboat.
a. From their end of the boat, the pair watched as those at the other end bailed frantically to keep the boat afloat.
b. Then one of the two said to the other, “I’m so thankful the hole is not in our end of the boat!”
4. Brothers and sisters, we are all in the same boat.
a. When and if there is a hole in our congregation it affects us all and it’s solution becomes the responsibility of us all.
E. As we continue our examination of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we come to a point in the letter where Paul appeared to suddenly change the subject as he passed on some travel plans of two of his co-workers, Timothy and Epaphroditus.
1. Perhaps, however, Paul was not being side-tracked at all, but was deliberately holding up these two men as living examples of what he has been teaching the Philippians in this letter.
2. We have seen that Paul had been challenging them to live a life worthy of the gospel, to face persecution with joy, and to be humble servants who put the needs of others ahead of their own.
3. Paul had already used both Jesus and himself as examples of these principles.
4. Perhaps Paul understood the inclination of people to discount their ability to follow such examples.
a. Perhaps he was aware of people saying something like: “It is impossible for us to follow the example of Paul and Jesus. After all, Jesus is the very Son of God, and Paul is a special apostle given great power and spiritual experiences. Who am I? I can’t be like them!”
5. Perhaps to counter that, Paul held up two very ordinary servants as examples.
a. Timothy and Epaphroditus were obviously not divine, nor were they apostles.
b. Timothy and Epaphroditus were ordinary people who served in extraordinary ways.
F. In the church, there has always been and there will always be a need for more people who are willing to serve and sacrifice to accomplish God’s mission.
1. My aim today is for all of us to be encouraged by the example of this priceless pair.
2. I hope that we will be inspired and challenged to follow their example of service to the Lord.
G. Before we look more closely at the service of Timothy and Epaphroditus, let’s reconstruct the situation that Paul was in at the time.
1. Paul was under house arrest in Rome awaiting an opportunity to bring his case before Caesar.
2. Depending on the outcome of Paul’s appeal, he hoped to return to Philippi.
3. In the meantime, Paul had wanted to send Timothy to Philippi with this letter so that Timothy could return to Paul with news of the well-being of the congregation at Philippi.