Spiritual Essentials for a Joy-Full Life ~ #11 “Heart Check: Timothy, A Model of Caring and Serving” – Philippians 2:19-24

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Heart Check: Timothy, a Model of Caring and Serving

Philippians 2:19-24

Now, if you would, please take out your Bibles, and turn in them to the book of Philippians and chapter 2. If you don’t have a Bible, there should be one under a chair in front of you. You can take that Bible, turn to page 155 in the back, and you will find yourself at Philippians, chapter 2.

Now, I want to begin this morning by asking ourselves a few questions…in fact, three questions. So, I know it’s still morning and you may need to put your thinking cap [be prepared to think] on, but I want you to do that with me if you would. Let’s open with some questions. Here is the first question: Was Jesus a people person? Did He regard others as more important than Himself? Did He do more than just look out for His own personal interests? Did He also look out for the personal interests of others? Was Jesus a people person? And I think we would all say, “Yes, He was.”

Second question: Am I a people person? Good question for us to each wrestle with. Are you a people person? Third question: As followers of Jesus, am I to be like Christ? If you look at chapter 2, I want you to be reminded of what it says in verse 5 when it says, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” In other words, be like Christ.

People are the most important commodity in the world today. Of everything that exists in the world where we live, people are the most important commodity, and I think if we’re going to be honest, it’s easy to lose sight of that, especially in America where we have so many things. We’ve been blessed with so much. All of that blessing can easily sway us away from people. All of these things we enjoy can vie for and contend for our focus in our life.

Just this past week, we had the blessing of having a home, and with a home come things and things that need attention. And so, we had to replace our entire home heating and air conditioning system, and that is a pretty big expense. And it’s amazing when we have something like that happen, and how you have to get so focused…”Where’s the money going to come from? How are we going to deal with this? How are we going to get all this done? That it tends to shift your focus away from people.

We have a lot of blessings, and they’re good blessings. Many of us have automobiles. A lot of people in the world don’t have automobiles. Some of us who have families have more than one automobile. But those things tend to shift our focus at times away from people. We have a lot of stuff, and you have a lot of stuff, and you’re often thinking about buying stuff, and I’m thinking about buying stuff. And then, we’re having the advertising community always coming at us saying, “You need newer stuff, and you need to have better stuff, and you need to have the latest version of this.” And so, all of this stuff that we have going on, all this that happens in our culture, will often sway us away from people. And soon what can happen is in our life focus, people are not really there. We’re so consumed with all that goes on around us and all the things around us.

We’ve been doing a study of the book of Philippians that we have subtitled Spiritual Essentials for a Joy-Full Life. How many people want to have a joy-full life? Well, all of us want to have a joy-full life. How do you get there? How does that happen? In chapter 2, we have seen that part of having a joy-full life is an essential mindset that we are to have, and that mindset is this: humility in serving people is integral to the spiritual life. People want to have a joy-full life, but they forget that part of that is humility in serving people and how integral that is to our spiritual life.

We’ve been in Philippians 2 for a little while. I’ll remind you of the theme that comes out in chapter 2,  verses 3 and 4, where he says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Others…regard them as more important than yourself. Don’t look into your own interests only, but also be concerned about the interests of other people.

It’s really the theme of this chapter, and we have been looking at some real-life examples of that. The first one we saw was the person of the Lord Jesus Himself. He lived that out, that He regarded others as more important than Himself. We saw that in verses 5 to 11. Then, in verses 16 to 18, we have seen the example of Paul who lived that out in his life. He regarded others as more important than himself, and he was not just looking out for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Now in chapter 2 we’re going to come to more examples. We come to the example of Timothy in verses 19 to 24, and then we’re going to come to the example of Epaphroditus in verses 25 to 30. Now, I just want you to just get a feel for the way this chapter is unpacking. He says we are to regard others as more important than ourselves. Let’s look at the example of Jesus, let’s look at the example of Paul, let’s look at the example next of Timothy, and let’s look at the example of Epaphroditus.

Do you see there is something very emphatic going on here? It’s almost as if Paul is saying, “I’m afraid you’ll jump past those verses too quickly. I want to show you examples of this. This is important. I’m going to emphasize this. Look at Jesus, look at Paul, look at Timothy, look at Epaphroditus, and that is what we all ought to be…men and women like that.”

I have given the message today this title…Heart Check: Timothy, a Model of Caring and Serving. We’re going to do a little heart check, and we’re going to look at the model of Timothy, and we’re going to see that he is a model of caring and serving.

If you have your Bibles open, I would like to read verses 19 to 24 and invite you to follow along in your Bible as I read. Paul writes in verse 19, “But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father. Therefore, I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me; and I trust in the Lord that I myself also will be coming shortly.”

Now, as we look at this section, we’re going to see two things this morning. First of all, we’re going to see Timothy and Paul’s sovereign kinship…this sovereign kinship they have together. And then the second thing we’re going to look at is Timothy’s heart example…a great heart example for you and for me. So, we’re going to look at Timothy and Paul’s sovereign kinship, and then secondly, we’re going to look at Timothy’s heart example.

So, let’s begin by looking at…

1. Timothy and Paul’s kinship together. Now, some of you have come to know Christ relatively recently, but if you follow the Lord Jesus over a period of time, there is going to be an experience that you will have. And that is in our spiritual journeys, from time to time God will provide sovereign kinships that you will experience.

For example, the first one that I had was in January of 1970. I was living in the Abel Hall men’s dorm at the University of Nebraska, and a guy by the name of Dean Hatfield came by. He happened to come by my room, and he was interested in being able to share the person of Christ with people, plus also to help nourish people in their spiritual life. And while I knew the Lord, I didn’t know much about the Lord at all. And so, a sovereign kinship happened, and Dean came into my life, and he nurtured me through the early years of my spiritual life.

Another sovereign kinship came in my life around 1984. In 1984 or so, there was this house painter and his family who started attending Wildwood Community Church. You knew that this was a little bit different family because of the name. The name was Vermelis, and the first name was Ilgvars. And he was from…his family background from a very strange place I had never heard of before called Latvia. And I had never heard of the word in my entire life. It was part of the former Soviet Union. But that began a sovereign kinship.

And in 1990, God opened a door of ministry to the nation of Latvia, and Ilgvars and myself traveled there while it was still part of the Soviet Union, and we traveled in parts of Latvia where no Americans had been since the Soviet Union had taken over. And that led to a friendship with Talis Talbergs, who is today is president of Latvian Christian Radio, which involved our integral involvement in seeing the Christian radio started there in Latvia in 1993, which then also led to our radio program Treasures for Every Day, which is on the air two times every week beginning in 1997 where this teaching that we do at Wildwood is actually broadcast throughout the nation of Latvia.

Just a sovereign kinship. I didn’t even know…in both of those cases, I really didn’t know what all was going to happen, but God crossed our paths, and a sovereign kinship was formed. By the way, normally I travel to Latvia every other year and go there to maintain relationships, and to keep the radio program going, and it has now been three years since I’ve gone, so the last half of this month…the last two weeks of June…I will be returning to Latvia, and so you can be in prayer about that. I’m looking forward to that and what God is going to do.

But Timothy and Paul had a sovereign kinship, and I want you to see how all this started, okay? Let’s go back and see how it was formed. Keep your finger in Philippians 2, and turn with me to the book of Acts, chapter 14. I want to show you how the sovereign kinship between Paul and Timothy began. In Acts, chapter 14 and verse 8, it all starts. It starts in a town called Lystra. And Paul is in Lystra in verse 8 of chapter 14, and “a man was sitting who had no strength in his feet, lame from his mother’s womb, who had never walked.” He was born unable to walk.

“This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his gaze on him and had seen that he had faith to be made well, said with a loud voice, ‘Stand upright on your feet.’ And he…” who had never walked, “…leaped up and began to walk.” An incredible event in Lystra! But I want you to notice what happens next.

In verse 11, “When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, ‘The gods have become like men and have come down to us.'” This guy who never could walk, he has just leaped up, and he is walking everywhere! “And they began calling Barnabas…” who was with Paul, “…Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker” of the gods.

“The priest of Zeus…” verse 13, “…whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds” that were there. I mean, the gods are here! You saw what happened. Let’s have sacrifices to these gods. Verse 14: “But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out and saying, ‘Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel…'” the good news, “‘…to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.'”

Now, I want your eyes to go down a couple of verses to verse 19. While all that is sort of being reacted to, notice what happens in verse 19. Some “Jews came from Antioch and Iconium…” where Paul had been earlier, and they began to work with this crowd, and they won the crowd over, and notice what happens.”They stoned Paul.” They beat him up with stones, left him under a rock pile in essence, and then they “dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.”

Now, can you imagine everybody around Lystra? They’re all gathered around now like, “Oh, there’s the guy who got stoned.” And then notice what happens. It says in verse 20, “While the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. The next day he went away with Barnabas to Derbe.” An amazing set of events that happen in Lystra.

Now, that is on the first missionary journey. I want you to turn over to chapter 16, and now we’re on the second missionary journey. And guess what happens in verse 1? Paul ends up again in the city of Lystra where this incredible event…no one ever forgot this event that happened in Lystra. And he shows up there again, and notice it says in chapter 16, verse 1, “And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek.”

We know from other parts of the New Testament his mother’s name was Eunice. His mother was Jewish, but his father was Greek. And we know his father had a heavy hand trying to keep his son from becoming a practicing Jew because he would not allow his son to be circumcised. Timothy was uncircumcised because that was the demand of his father, but yet there was an incredible influence that came in his life from his mom and from his grandmother.

I want to turn over to a couple of other passages. Look at 2 Timothy, chapter 1, and verse 5…just giving you a feel for who Timothy was…2 Timothy, chapter 1, and verse 5, Paul says to Timothy, “I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice.” He says, “I know you have a relationship with God. In fact, it tracks back to the relationship with God your grandmother had and your mother had.”

If you look at chapter 3 of the book, verse 14, he says regarding Timothy, “Continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them.” And notice this: “From childhood…” verse 15, “…you have known the sacred writings…” From childhood you were taught the Old Testament by your mother and your grandmother. These truths “which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

Timothy and Paul sovereignly cross paths, and if you can go back to Acts 16 for just a moment, I want to just pick it up there again where we were. We know that when they have this sovereign kinship beginning to form that Timothy was probably in his late teens. We know from 1 Timothy, chapter 4, verse 12 where Paul says to Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on your youthfulness.” He was a young man, but he was a teachable man. He was a man who had appreciation for God’s truth because he’d been taught the truth of God from the time he was little. That’s Timothy.

We also know from 1 Timothy, chapter 5, verse 23, that he was someone who suffered from frequent ailments. Underline the word frequent. That is the key word. He had some health issues, some frequent ailments. But notice back in Acts 16, verse 2, “He was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted this man…” Timothy, “…to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.”

In other words, Paul’s strategy was to first move into the synagogue and to bring out the Old Testament truths about Jesus, and if he was going to take Timothy with him into the synagogue, well, he had to be circumcised, and it was consistent for him to be circumcised because his mother was Jewish, and that is what he did. But this is the beginning, you see. This is the beginning of that sovereign kinship that exists between Paul and Timothy.

Now, on your way back to Philippians, chapter 2, I want to remind you that in the previous decade before this book Philippians was written, Timothy had been with Paul. Probably Timothy was very young when that whole episode first happened in Lystra. And then, the next time that Paul came through, there was a bonding that happened, and he said, “I want to take this young guy who has a lot of potential with me.” And so, then the next 10 years, you have Timothy with Paul in Thessalonica, and Berea, and Corinth, and Ephesus, and throughout all of Macedonia, they’re traveling together. There was this sovereign kinship that God just sovereignly brought into both of their lives. So, that is Timothy and Paul’s kinship. I just wanted you to see that.

The second thing we want to look at back in Philippians 2 is…

2. Timothy’s heart example…how he is an example of caring and serving people. Notice verse 19. Paul says, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition.” Now, I want to remind you of what is going on here. You do remember that Paul is in Rome. He is under house arrest. He is chained to some Roman soldiers every day. People can come and visit him, but he cannot leave, and he has some concerns about the people in Philippi. Philippi was 800 miles away from Rome.

Now, we need to remember the era of time this is in. If someone we care about is 800 miles away, we might be thinking it’s not that hard to get in the car and to drive there. That wasn’t really an opportunity. It took a long time to travel 800 miles in those days. Not only that, Paul couldn’t go anywhere. They didn’t have the things we have where we would just say, “Oh, let’s pick up the phone. We’ll just telephone and find out how people are doing.” They didn’t have such a thing.

They did not have the Internet, did not have email, didn’t have the opportunity to Twitter somebody and say, “How are you doing? Tell me about it.” They couldn’t do any of that. So, there was concern about what was going on with the believers, the people back in Philippi.

Now, when I look at verse 19, three things just jump out at me, and I want to look at all three of them. The first thing that sticks out to me is…

1. Paul’s caring heart for people. Notice in verse 19, he says, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition.” He had a heart for how they were doing, a heart for how they were doing in their relationship and walk with the Lord Jesus. We see this over and over and over again with Paul. He had a caring heart for people.

Keep your finger here. We’re going to move around a lot today. I want you to go a little bit to the right to 1 Thessalonians, chapter 2. This is a great chapter, but we see his caring heart for people here in chapter 2, verses 11 and 12. He says, “You know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children.” Why did he do that? Why did he exhort them and encourage them and implore each one of them? Verse 12: “So that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”

“I’m concerned. I want you to live your life in a way, because Jesus gave Himself for you, so that you’re honoring Him with your life. I want you to live in a worthy way, and so I’m concerned about that, and I care about that, and so I will encourage you, and I will exhort you, and I will implore you just like a father would his own children.” Paul’s caring heart for people.

Look at chapter 3 and verse 5. When he was away from the Thessalonians, he says, “For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith…” Why? “…for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain.” He says, “I was concerned about your spiritual life. I was afraid the enemy may have fooled you, that the temptations of the enemy might have been something you fell victim to, and I didn’t want that to happen because I care about you as people.”

Now, when I work my way through those verses, and we look at Paul’s caring heart for people, I think it’s good to stop and ask ourselves some more questions. And so, here is one that we can all wrestle with…How often do you have a concern for other people’s spiritual life? Now, I know if you’re a parent, you’re obviously going to have concern for your own children’s spiritual life, but how often, when it comes to other people, do you have a concern for their spiritual life? How often do you pray about other people’s spiritual life? Oh, I know when they’re going off to have a biopsy, and we would pray for that biopsy, and we would pray that it would come back negative, and that is a good thing to pray for. But how often do we pray for them regarding their spiritual life? The first thing we see from verse 19 is Paul’s caring heart for people.

The second thing that just sticks out to me from verse 19 is…

2. Paul’s transparency, and I’m really encouraged by this. He says, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition.” I think the New Living Translation says, “So that I too can be cheered up.” And somehow, I don’t know where it ever started in the Christian world out there, but there is this strange notion that exists that if we are spiritual, we will never experience discouragement. If we are spiritual, we’ll never need to be encouraged by other people. If we’re spiritual, we don’t really even need other people. We’re just spiritual enough to not need others.

But Paul is very transparent. He says, “I want to be encouraged.” Now, he is under arrest. He trusts the Lord in all of this, but he is human! And he is saying, “I would love to receive some encouraging, uplifting news about those in Philippi. That would give me spiritual energy in all the things I’m going through.” So, we see Paul’s caring heart for people here, we see Paul’s transparency.

And by the way, that is one of the reasons why at Wildwood we say, “One of the three things we want you to do is to worship, to serve, and to connect with people,” because you need some encouragement in your life. I need some encouragement in my life from time to time. That is why it’s not just okay…it’s good to come here and be a part of this service, but it’s not just okay to do only that. We need to connect with people because we need to be encouraged at certain times.

The third thing that sticks out from verse 19 to me is…

3. Paul’s clear awareness of the sovereignty of God. Notice again verse 19. He says, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition.” I hope in the Lord Jesus that I can do this. In other words, he is saying, “I can plan. It’s good to plan, but God is in control.” God is always in control, and he is saying by saying this, “I remind myself of that at all times.”

You can jot down a couple of other references. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 4, verse 19, he says to the Corinthian believers, “I will come to you soon…” and then he adds these words, “…if the Lord wills.” In other words, he’s saying, “I need to constantly be reminding myself of the sovereignty of God.” In 1 Corinthians, chapter 16, and verse 7, he says to them there, “When I come, ‘I hope to remain with you for some time…'” and then he adds this little phrase, “‘…if the Lord permits.'” Even in the way Paul worded stuff, he was always reminding himself of the sovereignty of God.

Keep your finger here. Go with me to the book of James. It’s hiding behind the book of Hebrews; you’ll find that to right in your Bible. I want you to notice James, chapter 4, verses 13 to 15, a passage that is familiar to many of us. James is writing to those believers, those followers of Jesus, and he says this, verse 13, “Come now, you who say…” just in the way that you operate in talking to people around you, “…’Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.'” In other words, “These are my plans. This is what I’m going to do: I’m going to go here. I’m going to do that.”

And then, he says in verse 14, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor…” just a little puff, “…that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” You know, it’s easy for us to make all these plans about what we’re going to do, but we need to remember that we’re only here for a very short while, and it may be shorter than we even think. So, what are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to communicate with one another? Well, notice he says in verse 15, “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.'”

So, rather than say, “Well, what we’re going to do is we’re going to go on vacation this summer. We’re going to go here, we’re going to do that, we’re going to do this,” he is saying, “Listen, it’s a good reminder for all of us to speak in this kind of a way, ‘If the Lord wills, that is what we plan to do. If the Lord allows that, that is what we plan to do,'” because it’s a reminder, a constant reminder and awareness of the sovereignty of God.

Now, with all of that in mind, I want to go back to verses 19 and 20 and take another look at them. Let me read through those verses again. He says in verse 19, “But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.”

He said…I don’t know where some of the other guys were that might have been around Rome. I don’t know where Luke may have been, but for the guys who were hanging around right now, he says, “There is no one else here of kindred spirit. There is no one else here who has a caring heart for the spiritual welfare of other people.” He is saying this basically, “Timothy is not afraid to put on the towel of Jesus, and to serve other people.” Now, where did he learn that…Timothy? He learned that through the sovereign kinship with Paul.

One other time, I want to go to 1 Thessalonians, chapter 3. Keep your finger here. Back over to 1 Thessalonians, chapter 3. This concern for the spiritual welfare of others, the caring heart. Notice in verse 1 of chapter 3. Paul was separated from the Thessalonians, and he said there in verse 1, “When we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith.”

Why? Because he understood that difficult things were happening where they lived. He didn’t want anyone to be disturbed by the afflictions that they were experiencing, the adversity in their life “for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this.” In other words, that was the way Paul operated. He knew this group of people was going through really hard, hard times, and he had a care for them and a concern for them about their spiritual welfare. So, he said, “I was willing to be left here alone, and I sent Timothy along because I wanted to find out what was going on, and I didn’t want you to fall victim. I didn’t want you to forget that we as believers, even though we are followers of Jesus, are destined to experience affliction in our life, and adversity in our life.”

Now, back to Philippians 2. He says, “I have no one else of kindred spirit who has that caring heart, no one else who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.” And then, notice what he says is the verdict of the many, besides Timothy. He says, “For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.” The problem, you see, he says with the other guys who I have around here is they’re into their own things. The New Living Translation translates verse 21 this way, “They care only for themselves, and not for what matters to Jesus Christ.” What matters to Jesus Christ? What is the most important commodity in the world? People.

Think of the verdict there regarding the many in verse 21, and just contrast that for a moment again with verse 4 of chapter 2. “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Regard others as more important than yourself. “Timothy is the only one I have right now who has the heart of Christ for people.” God cares about people. They are the most important commodity in the world today.

And here is what we tend towards. This is sort of what I think the culture, like the current of the culture pulls us along. We tend to…let’s just be honest…we tend to in a course of a few weeks find ourselves being pretty much into us. We’re into us. We’re into ourselves. We’re into our schedule. I have to do this, I have to do this, I have to do this, I have to do this! You know, one of the great indicators of whether or not we’re into us and into ourselves and into our schedule is how upset we get with interruptions. See, it’s real easy for us to forget that God is in the people business, and God has called us in the people business.

And I’m going to be transparent with you, that is a struggle with me. One of my strengths that I have is the fact that I can focus on what needs to get accomplished. I can go into my achiever mode…there are things to be done; there are things to be done. Let’s get these things that need to be done, done. It’s one of my strengths. It’s also one of my weaknesses because I can get so focused on what I think I need to do and the things that need to be done that sometimes I can really forget that we’re all in the people business.

This last week, I read a very interesting challenge, a very interesting thought. It’s by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and I want you to hear what he writes, and think about yourself now. Just think about yourself as I read this. He writes, “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among thieves. When we do that, we pass by the visible sign in our path that God has put there to show us that not our way, but God’s way, must be done.”

He goes on to write, “It is a strange fact that Christians frequently consider their work so important and urgent that they will allow nothing to disturb them. They think they are doing God a service in this, but part of it is the discipline and humility that we must use where we spare our hand where it can perform a service, and we do not assume that our schedule…” listen to this, “…is our own to manage, but to allow it to be arranged by God.”

Isn’t it interesting? You know, we get up. We start our week. We lay out all the things we’re going to do…I want to do this. I have to do this. I have to go there. I have to take care of this, And all these things we’re going to accomplish…and we never really stop to think…God is going to interrupt us a number of times in our week with people because people are the most important commodity in the world. So, it’s going to be by divine plan. He is going to interrupt us with people, and so, we just need to have our mindset preset. There are going to be interruptions with people. So, when they come, we don’t get irritated. “I can’t believe…arrgh!”

And one of the things I’ve noticed, by the way, when God wants to interrupt your little schedule just to remind you that it’s really His schedule, a lot of times when you have one interruption come and we have that irritated response, I’ll tell you what He does next. He’s going to send you several more. It’s almost like, “I don’t think you’re getting it, so here come several more your way.” And all that is saying is that is not the heart of Jesus. And it wasn’t the heart of Paul, and it wasn’t the heart of Timothy. Now, I think that is pretty convicting stuff.

Now, understand me here, please. We need to deal with things in life. It’s not just that I just sit there, “Okay. What everybody else says I’m going to do is what I’m going to do.” We need to deal with things in life, but we should not be consumed with the things in life. See, part of the attitude that Christ had was He had a serving attitude towards people. He had a caring and serving attitude toward others, and Paul demonstrated that in his life, and Timothy demonstrated that in his life.

Notice verse 22. He says of Timothy, the sovereign kinship he had with him. He said, “You know of his proven worth…” Timothy is tested. He is authentic. He is the real deal. He is the real thing, and “…that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father. Therefore, I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me; and I trust in the Lord…” there is that awareness again of the sovereignty of God. “I trust in the Lord that I myself also will be coming…” to Philippi, “…shortly.”

In other words, Paul is saying to us again here…notice how it keeps coming out in his language…”In the outworking of my life, I want to be alert to the fact that God is always leading me. My plan is not always going to be His plan, and His plan is going to involve people, and He wants us to be caring and serving people.”

So, if we want to have a joy-full life, an essential mindset we are to have is that humility in serving is integral to the spiritual life. You will not, I will not, have a joy-full life if we’re not involved in serving people, because others are more important than myself. And Jesus is a model of caring and serving for others. And Paul and Timothy are models of caring and serving for others, because people are the most important commodity in all of the world.

So, some other questions to ask at this point…How am I doing when it comes to caring and serving people? How are you doing when it comes to caring and serving people?

Now, as we get ready to close, I want to talk about some life applications, some things that we can do right now to really apply what we have looked at this morning, and I want to share with you three questions for reflection. And this is the time when you ought to write something down. This is where we begin to take the meat of [the heart of] what we’ve wrestled with and talk about what this should mean in my life and yours. So, three questions for reflection.

1. What has priority for you: people or things? And that is a good question to go before the Lord with and to be honest with Him about it. What has priority: people or things?

2. What level of concern do you have for others? What level of concern do you have for the spiritual life of other people? And one way to gauge that is to simply check your prayer life. When you find out that somebody you know who is a follower of Jesus is really struggling in their spiritual walk…they’re having a difficult time, they’re having dark days…do you pray for them, or do you go, “I can’t believe they’re such and such,” or “Isn’t it too bad? So sad”?

How about when someone is in the midst of great financial difficulty, and maybe they’ve lost their job, or they’re struggling through other things, or they’ve had all these bills pile up, do we say, “Well, I’m just sure glad that’s not me; I’ve been there,” or do we say, “I want to pray for that person. I want to lift them up”?

Or maybe they’re in the midst of a relationship difficulty. They’re having a problem between a parent and a child, or maybe a problem inside of the marriage or some other relational difficulty that is going on at work, and you’re aware of it. Do you have a level of spiritual concern for other people? And do you pray for them like you would like them to pray for you if you were in that situation?

The third question for reflection is this…

3. Are you serving others? Again, we talk about Wildwood. We would like everybody to be involved in worship, and we want them to connect in relationship, and then, we want you to serve other people. That doesn’t mean you have to serve someone on this campus on a Sunday necessarily, but are you serving others?

By the way, some indicators of whether you are serving other people? Let me just give you a couple of indicators you can look at. One is your checkbook. Where does your money go? Does your money go…some of it…to serve people? Another little indicator of whether you’re serving others is your free time. What do you do with your free time when you’re not at work, you’re not at school, and you’re not sleeping? I’m not saying all of our free time is to be given in serving others, but what do you do with your free time? We are called to be like Jesus, to be like Paul, and to be like Timothy.

Let’s pray together: Father, we just really want to thank You for Your Word today, and we thank You that it’s helpful to reorient us. And I want to thank You today for the sovereign kinships that You brought in many of our lives. They’re so significant, and they’ve had such an impact on us, and we just thank You for them, and may we celebrate them.

And, Father, we want to pray too that You would continue to cultivate in each one of us a heart like the Savior because people are the most important commodity. And help us to remember as we work our way through our week that You are the One who is sovereign and in control, and that You plan to send some interruptions our way, interruptions that deal with people. And may we have an eye to see how You want to turn our heart towards people. Thank You for what You’re going to do. And we thank You in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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