A Young Man to Emulate
Text: Philippians 2:19-24
After a number of verses that give us the principles for living, Paul now gives us a model to follow. And models are helpful. Seeing something is much more helpful than just reading about it. It’s why YouTube is now the first destination for most people wanting to know how to do something. It’s one thing to read how to change the spark plugs in your car, but it’s another thing to actually see it being done.
I. PAUL’S DESIRE FOR THE YOUNG MAN
1. The Essence of His Desire
v19, 23 – Paul basically says his intention is to keep Timothy until he knows more about what is going to happen to him. Once he knows that, he’ll send Timothy to them to let them know the latest news about Paul.
2. The End of His Desire
i) To discover their situation v19 He wants to be comforted by the news of their welfare from a man he respects.
ii) To develop their spiritual state v20
So it’s not just a matter of getting information on their state, but with godly judgement he will be able to help them as a people and as a church.
3. The Exception in His Desire
The exception is seen in his submission to Christ – both in sending Timothy v19, and his own arrival v24. His desires had the exception of submission to Christ and his will, both in the formation of his desire and in the execution of his desire (v23).
II. PAUL’S DESCRIPTION OF THE YOUNG MAN
v20-22 it appears that Paul builds an argument for why he should send Timothy. You see, when Timothy was there before he was just a young man in training. It would be hard to look upon him as anything different. It would be hard to take advice from him. They’d probably rather Paul sent someone more mature, like Silas or Luke.
i) The Resemblance – v20
Of all those Paul could send, he says there is no one who is more like himself in attitude, spirit, and love toward those at Philippi. In Paul’s opinion, Timothy is the obvious man for the job. “care” – anxious (same word for “careful” in Phil 4:6). It has the idea of a care that consumes the individual.
Timothy had a natural spiritual anxiety toward the people of God at Philippi. It shows that the vast spectrum of human emotions have both their positive and negative application.
ii) The Reverse – v21
It seems as if Paul reveals a reluctance among many to have any desire to go to Philippi. He doesn’t reveal who he asked, but these words clearly imply his frustration at the selfishness of many involved in God’s work. And I say those in God’s work because I don’t believe Paul refers to all Christian’s here. You can’t criticize a man’s reluctance to preach when he and everyone else knows he can’t do it. Paul is criticizing those who had the ability to go to Philippi and do these believers good, but wouldn’t go because of selfish reasons. This is an attack against the spirit often found in church leadership. I’ve seen this. I’ve seen young men who believe they are called to preach and be church leaders, but also feel they can dictate to God the boundaries of their service. When I went to Australia on a temporary basis, it wasn’t with the proviso that I could get a career break from my boss. And my wife who had just graduated, walked away from a job offer as a dietitian in a local hospital, a job that’s like hen’s teeth in Northern Ireland. But I have seen a lack of this spirit of willingness and I can’t get my head around it. Good young men seeking their own.
How different this is to v17. We may have fanciful idea of the first century church. Because of the abuse of church leadership, well-meaning Christians are trying to emulate the externals of the early church thinking that will give us the spirit of the early church. Well, while there was much good about it, the early church had its problems, too. They had selfish church leaders, too, even while they lived in the presence of a man like Paul v21.
But I tell you, this past week I have been greatly encouraged. After last week’s message, I’ve seen a family spirit in this place that was anything but self-seeking. You took the message whether consciously or not, and the Spirit moved many of you to do things. And many of you didn’t see what others were doing, but my heart has been thrilled. I hope you were blessed in what you did, and I pray your example multiplies.
iii) The Record v22
“proof” – from the same root word as 1:10 “prove” i.e. test. Paul is saying, you know he has been tested, he has been proved. He is a son of mine, i.e. he has the same spirit as I do. Like father like son in gospel service. I was thinking about the advantage I have to counsel young men for the ministry having come here rather than stayed in my home country. It’s all very well being able to say you’re willing to leave family, but if you haven’t done it it lacks punch. But if a young man comes to me and says, God is calling me to this place or that place but I’m afraid to leave my family, I’ll be able to speak from experience, “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.” Luke 18-29-30
Close – Look at v20-21 — you can’t divide what you do for Christ from what you’re willing to do for God’s people. Caring for the church is caring for the things which are Christ’s. This is the spirit that beat within Paul himself in 1:23-24. His love for for God’s people was no less than his love for Christ. This was the reason for the pull.
Look at how Christ-like v20 is. Could that not be said of Christ? And that’s the point, beloved. If people can say things about us that you could say about Jesus Christ, we’re doing something right.
“naturally care for your state” – Christlikeness was like a genetic trait in Timothy. And how did you attain this? v22 – serving for years under Paul and proving himself consistent. Thomas Brook said, “Example is the most powerful rhetoric.”.