Summary: Take a look at what it means to have faith that is "The Real Thing."
Introduction- Last Christmas my son gave me a North Face jacket he purchased in southeast Asia. As he presented the jacket he assured me it was original. The reason he gave such assurance is because many American products are illegally duplicated in other parts of the world. In fact, my son said it is possible to buy copies of hit movies for $3 on CD a few days after they come out in America. There are many fake products on the market.
The same is true of the Christian faith. There are many fakes on the market. There are many people who profess to follow Christ but few who live like Christ. I want you to see a picture of a man who was identified as the real thing. “I plan (according to Jesus’ plan) to send Timothy to you very soon so he can bring back all the news of you he can gather. Oh, how that will do my heart good! I have no one quite like Timothy. He is loyal, and genuinely concerned for you. Most people around here are looking out for themselves, with little concern for the things of Jesus. But you know yourselves that Timothy’s the real thing. He’s been a devoted son to me as together we’ve delivered the Message. As soon as I see how things are going to fall out for me here, I plan to send him off. And then I’m hoping and praying to be right on his heels.” Phil. 2:22-23 TMNT Notice in verse 23 Paul identifies Timothy as being the real thing.
What was there about Timothy that won him such a wonderful affirmation? I want to identify two characteristics of the person who is the real thing.
I. A person who is the real thing is Authentic.
Something that is authentic is real or genuine. Paul looked at Timothy and saw an individual who was the real thing. He was genuine. Authenticity should be a characteristic of our faith.
Ill- Sometimes when you purchase items with a $20 bill the cashier will use a marker to check the bill for authenticity. Even so, there is a method for determining authenticity in the Christian faith. The measure of authenticity in the Christian faith is Jesus Christ. Twice in verses 21-22 Paul mentions Timothy’s commitment to the gospel of Christ.
Timothy’s faith was authentic because it was personal and life changing. Have you had a life changing encounter with Jesus Christ? There are real Christians and fake Christians. There are people who know Jesus Christ and people who do not. Timothy came to know Jesus Christ through the teachings of his mother and grandmother. We find this recorded in II Tim. 3:14-15.
After accepting Jesus Christ Timothy made serving him the priority of his life. Service to Jesus was not an add on. Service to Jesus was not a supplement. It was his life. It became the priority of his life (refer to verse 21).
II. A person who is the real thing is a Reliable servant of Christ.
If your car starts once every three tries, is it reliable? If the postman skipped delivery every Monday and Thursday, is he trustworthy? If you don’t go to work once or twice a month, are you a reliable employee? If your fridge stops working for a day or two every now and then, do you say, “Oh well, it works most of the time.”? If your water heater provides an icy cold shower every now and then, is it dependable? If you skipped a couple of electricity bill payments do you think Western Power would mind? If you fail to worship God one or two Sundays a month, would you expect to be called a faithful Christian? We expect loyalty and reliability from things and other people - isn’t it reasonable then that God just might expect the same from us.