The question for today is: How do you act when nobody is looking? Or, what do people say about you when you are not around?
Before we continue on with Philippians, first things first, before I continue. I am not a Bible scholar. I don’t have a degree in theology. I am just a woman who desperately wants to understand the Bible and develop a deeper walk with Jesus. I try my best to state truth and understanding. I pray that anything I say here that is untrue or misunderstood will be forgotten and only the good stuff is remembered.
I find it inspiring that God uses people that are ordinary in nature. By looking at them you would think there is nothing special about them. They are not necessarily the ones you would think of as the hero that saves the day.
Time and time again the Bible shows us that it doesn’t matter where you start in your faith (or even if you were a persecutor of faith like Paul) you can be a messenger of God. You have an important part to play in the faith story. The story really doesn’t end with the Bible. It only begins. We are the next chapter of the whole story. We carry the message of the Word by how we treat others, how we respond to evil in the world, and how we love one another, even when we disagree and fight.
It is an important question to ask ourselves, “What do people say about me when I am not around? Who am I, really? And, what message am I carrying about the Gospels?“
Scripture: Slowly read and color code Philippians 2:17-19. Paul continues from verse 16 by saying that even in his death, the Word of Christ and faith is his offering. Then, he continues on to say he will be sending Timothy to Philippi asap to encourage them.
Timothy was Paul’s disciple. Some scholars estimate Timothy was in his late teens or very early 20s when he started traveling with Paul to spread the Gospel. He was born Jewish but young in his Christian faith.
Scripture: Continue reading 2:20-24. “For I have no one like him [no one of so kindred spirit] who will be so genuinely interested in your welfare and devoted to your interests.” (2:20) I love that kindred spirit statement.
Observation: Paul calls Timothy a “kindred spirit” or an equal soul. Obviously, he thinks highly of Timothy. Notice how Paul is incredibly forthcoming and generous with compliments. He has zero problem showing his deep love and admiration for another man. He even humbles himself to Timothy.
What can we learn about Timothy’s character in this scripture?
- He is zealous in his pursuit of the good news.
- He doesn’t seek to advance his own interests but he seeks God’s interests.
- He is genuinely interested in the welfare of the Philippians and devoted to their interests.
Timothy is an example of a man living for Christ in all aspects.
Scripture: Explore and color code 2:25-30. Paul will send Timothy as soon as he knows the outcome of his sentence in Rome, but meanwhile he will send Epaphroditus to Philippi.
Observation: Paul calls Epaphroditus “…my brother and companion in labor and my fellow soldier…” Fellow soldier means someone who is serving in God’s Army. That is an amazing compliment and honor! I want to be a soldier in God’s Army.
What else do we learn about Epaphroditus?
- He is a special messenger (apostle) and minister to Paul’s needs.
- He grew up in Philippi and is homesick.
- It worries him that people in Philippi are worried about his illness.
- He was so ill, he was near death. God had compassion on him and brought him through the illness.
- He is anxious to get back to Philippi, to see how everyone is doing and spreading the good news, and also to see old friends.
Scripture: In Verse 29 and 30 Paul instructs the Philippians to “Welcome him [home] then in the Lord with all joy, and honor and highly appreciated men like him.” 30 “for it was through working for Christ that he came so near death, risking his [very] life to complete the deficiencies in your service to me.” In 1 Peter 3:15, Peter says Paul sometimes writes things that are hard to understand. I laugh at that because I had to read this verse over and over just to understand that last bit.
Observation: The takeaway is this: Paul thinks very highly of Epaphroditus and wants the Philippians to throw him a welcome home party because he is a man of God.
3 things that both men have in common:
- They are examples of Godly men, living for Christ.
- They are fighting a good fight and setting good examples.
- They lift up the name of Jesus Christ in the midst of persecution.
They are living a life worthy of the Gospel.
Application: In what areas of your life do you see a lack of integrity? When certain people are around, do you act differently? In what ways? Are you the person who would get a party if you returned home? What actions in your life would have others to conclude you have high integrity and are a person of God?
Prayer: Dear Lord, Thank you for the word of the Bible. It inspires and guides me to live a life worthy of the Gospels. The men and women who are imperfect like me are an inspiration to do better every day. I ask that you help guide me to live my life as Timothy and Epaphroditus every day. To act with integrity, to lift others up, and to fight in the midst of attack. In God’s name I pray, Amen.
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