Summary: Sixth in a series on "Restoring the Joy" a study on the book of Philippians. Paul reminds us the friends help in the difficulties of life, by telling of how Timothy and Epaphroditus were a blessing in his life.
Restoring the Joy
Sermon # 6
“Friends Help Us to Maintain Joy.”
“A youth minister was attending a Special Olympics meet where handicapped children competed with tremendous dedication and enthusiasm. One event was the 220-yard dash. Contestants lined up at the starting line, and at the signal, started running as fast as they could.
One boy by the name of Andrew quickly took the lead, and was soon about 50 yards ahead of everybody else. As he approached the final turn he looked back and saw that his best friend had fallen and hurt himself on the track.
Andrew stopped and looked at the finish line. Then he looked back at his friend. People were hollering, "Run, Andrew, run!" But he didn’t. He went back and got his friend, helped him up, brushed off the cinders. And hand in hand, they crossed the finish line dead last. But as they did, the people cheered, because there are some things more important than finishing first.”
Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, "Two are better than one... If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" We do fall or get knocked down at times in life, don’t we? And how wonderful it is when we have a friend who cares enough to lift us up, dust us off, and help us continue on.
I cannot even imagine what life would be like today were it not for a handful of friends who have and continue to bring joy into my life. Let’s face it friends make life a lot more fun!
We talk rather glibly about friendship and toss the word “friend” around rather freely. But when the Bible speaks about friendship, it does so with great seriousness. This morning I want to speak to you on the subject of “Friends Help Us to Maintain Our Joy.” As Paul looks at his situation he see two friends that have helped him tremendously.
First, he tells us of Timothy- His Son In The Faith. (vv. 19-24)
(v. 19) “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state.”
What Paul suggests here would require Timothy to travel to Philippi, take stock of the situation, and either travel back to, or send a message to Paul in Rome. This is first century Rome, and travel is a lot slower than it is today. Timothy’s journey requires about 400 miles of land travel and at least one sea voyage. We can finish this journey in a day, while Timothy would have been traveling for weeks.
This is not the first time Paul has sent Timothy as an emissary. During Timothy’s missionary association with Paul he was sent to Thessalonica (1 Thess. 3:6) and to Corinth (1 Cor. 16:10-11) and now to Philippi.
The Qualities of Timothy’s Character (vv. 20-23)
Paul tells us three things about Timothy’s character!
First, we are told that He Had a Kindred- Spirit. (v. 20) Paul says in verse twenty, “For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.”
In fact, the New American Standard Version translates that verse to say, "I have no one else of kindred spirit." Chuck Swindoll points out that the Greek word used here (and used no where else in the New Testament) (isopsychos) is a word that means "same soul." [Charles Swindoll. Laugh Again: Experience Outrageous Joy. (Dallas: Word, 1991) p.]
Paul is saying, "Timothy and I have the same soul. We’re kindred spirits, like-minded." But being of kindred spirit does not mean that they had the same temperaments nor that they always agreed.
By the time Paul wrote these words from prison in Rome, Paul and Timothy had served together for more than ten years, ever since Paul’s second great missionary journey. They had traveled together and preached together. Paul knew that Timothy was a man he could count on … one that would never turn on him. He knew this -Timothy would always be loyal.
Yet Timothy was a relatively young man, it is possible that he is not yet 30 years of age at this point. I want to observe two things at this point from the example of Paul and Timothy’s friendship.
First, Paul encouraged younger Christ-ians to observe, learn, help and then to lead. And likewise Paul expected the older Christians to teach, to model, to mentor and then to turn over leadership.
Secondly, Timothy’s faithfulness serves a strong example to all of us modern-day Christians that there are many ministries in the church that depend upon the faithfulness
of men and women who are humble enough to do them as unto the Lord.
The second quality of Timothy character that we are told about is - He Had a Genuine Concern for Others. (v. 21) Paul says in verse twenty-one, “For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.” I think Paul is presenting a contrast. He is saying, "Most everybody else looks out for his own interests, but Timothy is not like everybody else. He’s special, and he is interested in you."