Summary: Philippians 2:19-30 teaches us to imitate worthy Christians.
We are in a sermon series on Paul’s letter to the Philippians that I am calling, “The Christian’s Contentment.”
After the opening greeting, Paul’s thanksgiving, and prayer, he wanted the Philippians to know that despite his imprisonment, the gospel was still advancing. Then, he urged them to live for Christ. However, like every church in every age the Philippian Church faced the danger of discord and disunity. So, Paul encouraged the believers to strive for spiritual unity, which was based on Christ’s example of humility. And, with Christ as the example, Paul urged believers to live as lights in the world. Then Paul wrote about Timothy and Epaphroditus, two men who followed the example of Christ and were worthy of imitation.
Let’s read about Timothy and Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:19-30:
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.
25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me. (Philippians 2:19-30)
My New Testament professor, D. A. Carson wrote:
When I was an undergraduate at McGill University thirty years ago, studying chemistry and mathematics, another Christian student and I began an evangelistic Bible study in the men’s dorm where we were living. We were both a little nervous and didn’t want to be outnumbered, so we invited only three unbelievers, expecting that not more than one or two would show up. It was rather distressing when all three put in an appearance. I had never done anything like this before. Within a few weeks, sixteen students squeezed into my little dorm room, and still only two of us were believers. Doubtless some Christian observers thought it was going exceedingly well; as for me, I was exceedingly frightened. The Bible study engendered all kinds of private discussions, and I soon discovered that I was out of my depth.
Mercifully, there was a chap on campus called Dave, a rather brusque graduate student who was known to be wonderfully effective in talking to students about his faith and about elementary biblical Christianity. I was not the only one who on occasion brought friends and contacts for a little chat with Dave.
On the particular occasion I have in mind, I brought two of the undergraduates from the Bible study down the mountain to Dave’s rooms. He was pressed for time and, as usual, a bit abrupt, but he offered us coffee and promptly turned to the first student.
“Why have you come to see me?” he asked.
The student replied along these lines: “Well, you know, I’ve been going to this Bible study and I realize I should probably learn a bit more about Christianity. I’d also like to learn something of Buddhism, Islam, and other world religions. I’m sure I should broaden my perspectives, and this period while I am a university student seems like a good time to explore religion a little. If you can help me with some of it, I’d be grateful.”
Dave stared at him for a few seconds and then said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have time for you.”
My jaw dropped. The student thus addressed was equally nonplussed and blurted out, “I beg your pardon?”
Dave replied, “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but I only have so much time. I’m a graduate student with a heavy program myself. If you have a dilettante’s interest in Christianity, I’m sure there are people around who could spend a lot of time and energy showing you the ropes. I can introduce you to some of them and give you some books. When you’re really interested in Christ, come and see me again. But under the present circumstances, I don’t have time.”