Philippians 2:19-30: Two Models of Exemplary Christian Living
June 19, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Paul here presents two models of what it means to be a Christian disciple. First, we have Timothy and then Epaphroditus.
Timothy is notable for his genuineness. Paul says that he has “no one else like him” (2:20). What made Timothy so distinct and so special? He had a “genuine concern for your welfare” (2:20). He really cares. He cares for the Philippians.
Whereas, sadly, it is true sometimes that even Christians have mixed motives in their service—as Paul puts it bluntly, “For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (2:21)—Timothy was different. “But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel” (2:22). Paul is commending the model of Timothy’s genuine concern for the work of the gospel as exemplary to the Philippians. Who do you know like this? Who takes a genuine interest in the progress of the gospel? Model your life on that kind of gospel-centered life.
Whereas Timothy was notable for his genuineness, Epaphroditus was notable for his bold risk taking for the cause of Christ. “He almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me” (2:30). Perhaps you know someone a bit like Epaphroditus, or at least you have read of people who put even their life in danger (if necessary) for the cause of Christ. Well, here is another model for us to emulate. Not just genuineness—which on its own can seem a little weak—but also bold risk taking for the cause of Christ.
Each of us have our own God-given characteristics and personality. But in Epaphroditus and Timothy we see elements of what it means to be a follower of Jesus today. Genuine concern. And risk taking for the cause of Christ. Be like these men, Paul is saying, by describing their strengths to the Philippian church. These are the kind of people that you are to be like. Not selfish but concerned for others. Not cowardly, but brave to take care of those in prison for preaching Christ like Epaphroditus took care of Paul.
Which part of these characteristics convict you? Are you needing to ask God to give you a more wholehearted and unpretentious commitment to the gospel? It’s easy to merely know the right language and say the right things, without really meaning them. Be more like Timothy. Or perhaps you are not as willing as you might be to risk your resources, even your life, for the cause of Christ. Look at Epaphroditus. Be more like him, says Paul.
It’s important to hold up for emulation models of exemplary Christian service, especially when all around us other models for copying are being held up by the media. Instead of copying a movie star, or a celebrity, or a YouTube sensation, copy Timothy. Copy Epaphroditus. Be genuine. Even take risks. All for the sake of the progress of the gospel.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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