Summary: In our text, Paul promises to send Timothy to Philippi at a later date. In the process, he offers some commentary about Timothy. He explains why he is such a respected leader. He does so to use Timothy as an example of what a good leader is all about.
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Introduction: I am often asked by youngsters and older new comers to our church, “what’s with the pictures on the wall” in the lower foyer. People who are unfamiliar with the terminology ask, “What’s a Timothy?” I generally give the simple answer first. “Those are pictures of men who grew up in this church and are now in the ministry.” A few will inquire further, “Why are they called Timothies?”
The answer to that of course requires some Bible background. A part of the answer is found in our text.
Timothy was the offspring of a mixed marriage. His mother was Jewish (Eunice); his father was Greek. He grew up in a part of what is now known as Turkey (Lystra). It is altogether possible that his father had died or left his family. At any rate, Timothy grew up under the influence of his mother and grandmother (Lois). Timothy becomes a Christian during one of Paul’s missionary trips to his home town. Paul would later refer to him as his “son in the faith.”
When Paul passes through Lystra later, he invites Timothy to join his mission team. For the next several years, he traveled with Paul and company. Timothy sometimes served as his scribe, writing letters that Paul dictated to his churches. More than that, Timothy became Paul’s go to guy. He sent him as a messenger and his representative to some of the most troublesome situations. The two letters that bear his name (1 and 2 Timothy) carried instructions for his ministry in Ephesus where he was sent to help organize the church, guide in the selection of leaders, and instruct the church on dealing with false teachers who threatened their well-being.
When this letter was written, Paul is in jail (most likely under house arrest in Rome) for preaching the message of Jesus. After a messenger arrives from one of his closest churches (Philippi) with a financial gift and some queries about how things are going for him, Paul writes back. He updates them on his situation (he is confident God is using even his prison time to further the gospel), thanks them for their faithfulness and generosity, and sends some words of encouragement to stand strong in the faith whatever happens. Note Phil 1:1. Timothy is with Paul. He is probably not under arrest himself, but comes and goes helping Paul, bringing messages to and from him.
In our text, Paul promises to send Timothy to Philippi at a later date. In the process, he offers some commentary about Timothy. He explains why he is such a respected leader. He does so to use Timothy as an example of what a good leader is all about. The qualities listed in his description of Timothy offer important insight into the qualities the Lord desires in every Christian leader, especially elders and deacons in a local church.
Leaders Need Positive Tongues.
“I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.”
Paul knew he could count on Timothy for a good report. The term “cheered” literally means “good souled.” Paul knew good news from his church would bring joy to his soul. Words can do that. Words have the power to encourage or discourage. Think about the root meaning of those English terms. Encouragement brings courage. Discouragement drains courage. That’s exactly what positive words can do, especially the words of leaders.
This church like every church needs leaders who can encourage. The world has enough discouragers. We have plenty of people who major in sowing despair and fear. We need leaders who can cheer the hearts and souls of people with their positive tongues.
We need leaders who think positive because they see through eyes of faith. They are not pie-in-the-sky dreamers who try to wish away problems. Rather they are faith-in-the-Lord believers who know their God is greater than any circumstance or any problem. That’s the overarching perspective of Philippians. Paul wrote from a prison cell, but he was convinced that the Lord he served was more powerful than any chain. He still is.
We don’t need leaders who are paralyzed by fear or negative thinking. We need leaders who can see the hand of God in any and every circumstance.
A Georgia farmer, ragged and bare-footed, was standing on the steps of his tumbledown shack. A stranger stopped for a drink of water. "How is your cotton coming along?" he asked. "Ain’t got none," replied the farmer. "Did you plant any?" asked the stranger. "Nope," was the reply, "afraid of bollweevils." "Well," continued the stranger, "how is your corn?" "Didn’t plant none," came the answer, "’fraid there weren’t going to be no rain." The visitor persevered: "Well, how are your potatoes?" "Ain’t got none. Scairt of potato bugs." "Really, what did you plant?" pressed the stranger. "Nothin’," was the calm reply, "I jest played it safe."