Faithlife Sermons

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A Good Man is Hard to Find
(Philippians 2:19-30)
Introduction:
There is a story of a young man in college deciding, along with a friend of his, to start a Bible study in the secular university he was attending.
He wrote:
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, if any, 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 spawned all kinds of private discussions, and I soon discovered that I was out of my depth.
Mercifully, there was a fellow on campus called Dave, a rather curt 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 amazed 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 all you have is a dabbler’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.”
He turned to the second student.
“Why did you come?”
After listening to the rebuff administered to the first student, the second may have been a bit overawed.
But gamely he plowed on.
“I come from what you people would call a liberal home.
We don’t believe the way you do.
But it’s a good home, a happy home.
My parents loved their children; disciplined us; set a good example; and encouraged us to be courteous, honorable, and hardworking.
And for the life of me I can’t see that you people who think of yourselves as Christians are any better.
Apart from a whole lot of abstract theology, what have you got that I haven’t?”
This time I held my breath to see what Dave would say.
Once again he stared at his interlocutor for a few seconds, and then he simply said, “Watch me.”
I suppose my mouth dropped open again.
The student, whose name was Rick, said something like, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”
Dave answered, “Watch me.
Come and live with me for a month, if you like.
Be my guest.
Watch what I do when I get up, what I do when I’m on my own, how I work, how I use my time, how I talk with people, and what my values are.
Come with me wherever I go.
And at the end of the month, you tell me if there is any difference.”
Rick did not take Dave up on his invitation, at least not in exactly those terms.
But he did get to know Dave better; and in due course Rick became a Christian, married a Christian woman, and the two of them—becoming medical doctors—practiced medicine and lived out their faith both in Canada and overseas.
“Watch me.”
At the time I worried about the sheer arrogance that such an invitation seemed to capture.
At the same time, my mind recalled the words of the apostle Paul: “Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor.
11:1).
Sober observation and reflection assure us that much Christian character is as much caught by us as taught to us—that is, it is picked up by constant association with mature Christians.
The title of our message this evening is . . . .
and throughout Scripture we find the very real admonition for us to walk the walk instead of merely talking the talk, don’t we?
When the unbelieving world looks at us it must be able to see the image of Christ shining out from within us.
If it can’t then our words of evangelism often do more harm to the cause of Christ than they ever do of good.
And this is no more obvious a need than in areas of Christian leadership.
So in our passage this evening, Paul gives the Philippians two human examples of Christian leadership that he says they can model their lives after.
Timothy and a man named Epaphroditus were sent to Philippi with the Apostle Paul’s own stamp of approval on them.
Listen What are people saying about you?
When your name comes up in conversation, are people contemptuous of you?
Are they dismissive?
Is there respect?
Might they disagree with you, but grudgingly admit that you are the real deal?
Or do they laugh and make fun of you behind your back, saying that instead of being a man of God, you are a big joke for God?
A Good Man is Hard to Find.
Let’s look at our passage.
I. Timothy (Phil.
2:19-24)
(1 Paul was in prison, wanting to send someone to be with the Philippians; wanting to send someone to them who would, not only mimic Paul's submissive and pastoral heart, but would be the real deal himself.
And that is so vitally important to all Christians, isn't it?
You see, here's the deal: it is very difficult for us to follow the lead of someone we cannot see.
And no one alive now has ever physically seen the Lord Jesus Christ, have they?
Some say they have, but that is iffy, to say the least.
We have the Holy Spirit directing us through the Scriptures, but sometimes, especially for new believers, it is critical for our spiritual growth that we have godly and mature believers to model our lives after.
And sometimes that has nothing to do with chronological age either.
Although, the longer a person has been a Christian, usually the more mature they are, oftentimes, you find younger believers more mature than older ones.
Such was the case with one of the men Paul chose to send to the Philippians.
Look again at verses 19-24.
(2 Who was Timothy?
He was Paul's protégées, wasn't he?
He was born of a mixed marriage; his mother was a Jewess, and eventually converted to Christianity; his father was Greek.
He was one of Paul's converts from his first missionary journey.
And he and Paul had a special relationship throughout Paul's life.
From the time Timothy was saved, he was an integral part of Paul's life.
What was it, though, that Paul saw in Timothy?
Was there something in Timothy that was special?
Was there something in Timothy that elevated him over other men in Paul's eyes?
Paul tells us that, yes, indeed, there was something special about this man, right?
(3 Why was Paul sending Timothy to the Philippians?
Usually whenever Paul sent a co-worker to a particular church there was something wrong.
The church at Corinth and the ones in Galatia come to mind.
Paul couldn’t come right then and there was a matter that needed fixing.
This time, though, the opposite seems to be the case.
It seems that Paul wanted to be encouraged, the word comforted means cheered, by a church that pretty much had its act together.
He was in prison, wanting to come to them himself, but couldn’t, so he sent his right hand man, a man that was the real deal.
Paul sent a man who reflected his own ideals; who had the same kind of heart the great Apostle had: a genuine pastor’s heart.
(4 But look at verse 20 again.
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