Characteristics of a Gospel-Centered Man (Part One)
Acts 16:2; 1 Timothy 4:12; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 Corinthians 4:16
We’ve been studying Philippians now for just over 2 months and what we’ve found is that the book of Philippians is primarily about the Gospel-centered life
We’re coming to the close of a section of the book that started with Paul encouraging the Philippians to “live your lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel”
He encouraged them to stand firm and to strive together with one heart and mind
In Philippians 2:1-4 Paul continues his argument that the humility of the believer leads to unity
Philippians 2:5-11 Paul provides us a view of the perfect example of humility as he displays for us the eternal, obedient and exalted Christ
Last week you looked at Philippians 2:12-18
Now we come to a portion of Scripture that many scholars point to as evidence that Paul is wrapping up one letter to the Philippians and that what we have is a compilation of several letters
What we’re going to find though is that this section 19-24 and the section 25-29 that we will look at next week actually fit perfectly as Paul provides an achievable example of Gospel-centered life
The institution of manhood is under attack - and has been for years
Strong male characters are no longer found in popular media
Men are portrayed as bumbling fools
A 2010 study published by Fox News reported that a child psychologist in Australia said that adolescence doesn’t end until the age of 28 (and it’s probably even later now)
But that is not the Biblical picture of the male role model
While the image of the Gospel-centered man wont win any Oscars or Espy’s - the Gospel challenges men to a higher standard
Over the next two weeks we’re going to look at two men who exemplify the Gospel-centered life
Timothy - Paul’s disciple and travelling companion for over a decade
Epaphroditus - the Philippians’ emissary to Paul who carried their financial gift to him (and probably also word of the divisions in the church that prompted this epistle)
First we need to understand Timothy - who he was, where he’d come from
Born the son of a Jewish woman and a Greek father in Lystra
His mother and grandmother taught him the Old Testament Scriptures
He was probably converted on Paul’s first missionary journey
He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium.
He joined Paul during his second journey
Paul circumcised him because of his Jewish heritage - but his upbringing as the son of a Greek father had exposed him to Hellenistic culture uniquely equipping him to minister to both Jew and Gentile
In later years he would be a leading elder in the church at Ephesus
He was frequently Paul’s emissary to wayward churches - to Thessalonica 1 Thessalonians 3:2-6; to Corinth 1 Corinthians 4:17 and 1 Corinthians 16:10-11
He was a timid sort
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
He had taken some abuse at the hands of the Corinthian church which was the reason for Paul’s admonition to them to treat him kindly
But here Paul is commending him to the Philippian church
Unlike the Christological passage which we looked at last time I was with you where Paul held up Christ as an unattainable example
Timothy is held up for us as one who we can aspire to emulate
Just as Paul implores the Corinthians, we can look at Timothy as one who had imitated Paul in every way
I urge you, then, be imitators of me.
So what are the characteristics of a Gospel-centered man?
Tonight we’re going to see that a Gospel-centered life has three characteristics -
submissiveness (not popular trait when it comes to manhood), Philippians 2:19
compassion , Philippians 2:20-21
and loyalty, Philippians 2:22
Read Philippians 2:19-24
Philippians 2:19; 2 Corinthians 4:8-10; Hebrews 13:23
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.
Paul’s introduction to the book of Philippians lists both himself and Timothy as doulos - slaves of Christ Jesus
Scottish pastor Alexander Maclaren once said
“The true position, then, for a man is to be God’s slave” ~ Alexander Maclaren
Absolute submission, unconditional obedience, on the slave’s part; and on the part of the Master complete ownership, the right of life and death, the right of disposing of all goods and chattels
the right of issuing commandments without reason, the right to expect that those commandments shall be swiftly, unhesitatingly, punctiliously, and completely performed
these thing inhere in our relation to God. Blessed is the man who has learned that they do and has accepted them as his highest glory and the security of his most blessed life!
For brethren, such submission, absolute and unconditional, the blending and absorption of my own will in His will, is the secret of all that makes manhood glorious and great and happy.
In the New Testament these names of slave and owner are transferred to Christians and Jesus Christ
Paul demonstrates his submission to Christ as he says that he “hopes in the Lord Jesus” to send Timothy to them soon
Timothy had subordinated his desires and will for his own life to Christ’s direction
He was a young teenager when he was selected by Paul to join him on his 2nd missionary journey
He had to leave home - his mother and grandmother
He was subjected to the same deprivations that Paul faced
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
He was eventually imprisoned for his participation in the Gospel
You should know that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon.
Heir to the Borden family fortune
Graduated high school in 1904 - received a trip around the world
His heart was burdened for the hurting people of the world
He returned home determined to become a missionary
One friend said he was wasting his life as a missionary. Borden wrote in the back of his Bible “No reserves”
Borden attended Yale University - while he was there he was distressed by the flagging spiritual condition of the student body. He wrote in his journal “Say no to self and yes to Jesus every time”
He started a prayer and Bible study ministry that ended up involving 1000 of 1300 students by his senior year
He moved on to Princeton Seminary turning down several high paying job offers - he added two more words in his Bible - no retreats
Upon graduation from Princeton Seminary he boarded a boat to travel to Egypt for language training before going to China to work with a Muslim population there
While in Egypt he contracted spinal meningitis and within a month was dead
Prior to his death he added two more words - no regrets
Just like Timothy, Bill Borden was submissive to His Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The first and most important characteristic of a Gospel-centered man is submission to Christ.
Philippians 2:20-21; Philippians 1:27; Philippians 2:2; Philippians 2:4
For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
Paul is saying that he has no one who is as like minded with himself as Timothy is
Several times in this section of the letter Paul has admonished the Philippians to be of one mind
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Now he holds Timothy up as an example of what that “one mindedness” looks like
Timothy had spent a decade serving with Paul and learning from him - the greatest compliment to a teacher is when the student becomes like him.
The word Paul uses for concern here is the same word used for anxiety elsewhere in the book
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
but in Timothy’s case this is a positive attribute as he is genuinely concerned about the welfare of this church
Timothy is again emulating his mentor
And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
Compassion/genuine concern is a trait that is sadly lacking in our society
We have lost the ability to see other people
A major contributor of this is the smart phone
We can now create our own little narcissistic universe into which we can retreat at any moment - and anything is available at the mere push of a button or request from Siri
The inclusion of the smart phone would significantly change the story of the Good Samaritan
Instead of being worried about their ritual purity the Priest and Levite would be worried about how many likes their Facebook and Instagram posts received
A Gospel-centered life has no room for narcissism.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Timothy was genuinely concerned for the welfare of the Philippians - willing to undertake a journey to Philippi at the behest of Paul to check on the church
This stands in stark contrast to the condition of some of the church in Rome at the time
Paul is likely making another reference to the group of preachers who were preaching the Gospel out of envy and strife
He has used them indirectly as examples for the Philippians frequently throughout this section
Make my joy complete - I am not discouraged by these men but I have been discouraged by you
do nothing out of selfish ambition - unlike these preachers who are preaching Christ out of selfish ambition
Now he points to them explicitly
It has always been interesting to me the way the verse breakouts fell
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Paul demonstrates his complete selflessness in Philippians 1:21 saying that for him life is centered on Christ
For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
And here they are all focused on their own interests.
It is a remarkable contrast on the difference of perspectives between someone who is completely submitted to the Gospel and those who are still seeking their own self-promotion
But Paul holds up Timothy as an example of one who is not seeking his own interests but instead those of Christ’s.
But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.
Timothy has been proven by fire
remained behind in Thessalonica when Paul was forced to leave the city
He is one of those who has spoken Christ with Paul
As I mentioned in the introduction Timothy was often Paul’s “fixer” who he would entrust with the mission of checking up on a church to see where they were and to deliver the appropriate message to that church and then report back to Paul.
Timothy has proven his worth through his service to the furtherance of the Gospel.
Much like Paul commends the Philippians for their fellowship (koinonia) with him in the Gospel in
because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
Timothy has served faithfully with Paul - even when others have deserted him
Timothy presents a picture of a man completely sold out to the Gospel
He is submissive to the leadership of Christ.
He is compassionate and concerned for his fellow Christians.
He is loyal to the cause of the preaching of the Gospel.
Sometimes a message like this can seem like a drubbing - it is not intended to be so
These are all aspects of the Christian life - the Gospel-centered life - that we can all improve on
It is not well looked upon in our society for a man to be submissive or compassionate
Loyalty is okay as long as you are loyal to my cause - but if you’re loyal to a competing cause prepare to be vilified
This is an opportunity for us (just as it was for the Philippians) to hold up a model of what we should be living up to and measure ourselves against it
Where are you in living the Gospel-centered life?
Have you completely submitted yourself to the Lordship of Christ?
Are you cultivating compassion and concern for your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?
Are you loyal to the cause and preaching or sharing the Gospel? Are you partaking in the fellowship of getting the Word of Christ out into the world?