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ES/PHIL/17 Philippians 2:19–24

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  23:35
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Philippians 2:19–24 NKJV
19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. 23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. 24 But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.
Today we are looking at a part of Philippians that seems like an excursion from the rest of the letter but, actually, he is giving concrete examples of what it is to be Christ-mindedness.
19
He knows that the report that he will get back from Timothy on his return will be an encouraging one for, no doubt, they would have heeded the things in this letter that they would have already received earlier and sought to get to grips, as we are, with more joy, more thankfulness, less murmuring, less conflict and less arguing. Paul had other confidence besides this which was his trust in the Lord Jesus that He who has begun a good work will bring to it completion. His heart and feelings went up and down with the prospects of what was happening at Philippi.
Paul would have wanted to know, nevertheless, if there was anything that needed to be sorted by him and a report from Timothy would have clarified if this was the case. Things can change quickly especially if things are left unresolved between people.
Paul also knows what some people are like. He warned the Ephesian elders in:
Acts 20:28–30 NKJV
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
It seems if there is no one who cares for the flock that soon there will be those who will try to fill the gap, the void left with the lack of leadership and guidance and instead uncalled by God people rise up to draw people after their way of thinking.
And no doubt Paul had his concern that in his absence a similar thing could befall the Philippian church. Indeed we find that Paul sends Timothy to the Corinthian and Thessalonian Church too so that they would be reminded of Paul’s ways and teachings. Timothy has been sent so that the Philippian Church is encouraged in the ways of Paul and to continue in the good that they are doing and to endure the persecution that is upon them.
20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.
And here Paul starts his commendation to the Philippians about Timothy. What kind of commendation would we receive from others? I sometimes wonder just how accurate people would be. Timothy was well-known to Paul; if there were flaws in his character they would be evident to him and I have no doubt that just as there are flaws in us there would have been in Paul and in Timothy too.
Timothy is a man who is similar to Paul having been at Paul’s side for so long. In fact, Paul says that Timothy is like-souled to him. Timothy was a man whose whole being and thoughts were like his own. His passions and desires were the same. Of course, Timothy was discipled by Paul. I wonder how our disciples would turn out if we had someone stay with us for a time. Would we be happy that they became like us? This is a crucial question. If we would not be happy then what do you think needs to change? What spiritual life would they see us lead? What would they learn about the way we interact with our spouses, relatives, brothers and sisters in Christ? And if we were to send that person to somebody else would we be happy to recommend them as being like-minded to ourselves? Such was Paul’s boldness because what he taught he embodied.
Paul could count on Timothy to carry Paul’s own deep concerns at heart. Timothy was not an hypocritical dishonest man but real, genuinely caring for others, really concerned and had their best interests at heart. In verse 19 and 20 we have the same phrase: ‘your state’ or ‘your affairs’. Both Paul and Timothy would be encouraged to know their state of affairs.
21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.
But this is not all, Timothy’s character is such that he is not self-seeking but actively seeks the welfare of others. Unlike some you can hear Paul say. What did you say, Paul? There is no one like Timothy because everyone else only seeks their own things. All seek their own. This is a damning report if ever there was one. It seems to me that he is saying that only Paul and Timothy genuinely care about their state of affairs for everyone else is selfishly considering only their own.
Does this implicate most Christians? Do they really only care about their own things? Do they not really care about others? Are they only engrossed in the affairs of this life in just their own lives? This surely cannot be true of Christians can it? Well, let’s see. Let’s make the questions a little more personal:
Do you/I really only care about your/my own things? Do you/I not really care about others? Are you/I only engrossed in the affairs of this life in just your/my own life?
Are things taking the place of people? Do we pretend to care for others? Surely selfishness is central to Western ways when for convenience we will kill an unborn child. It will not take long to discover just how much we care. But when we do the results can be spectacular:
Anecdotes and Illustrations A Deep Spiritual Concern for Your Soul

IN a small country town there was an infidel blacksmith. He was a hard-headed, well-read man, strong in argument. An old deacon in the town became deeply interested in this infidel blacksmith and determined to lead him to Christ. He studied up as best he could all the infidel arguments and the answers to them. When he thought he had all the infidel arguments and answers at his fingers’ ends, he called on the blacksmith and engaged him in conversation, but the blacksmith was far more than a match for him in argument and in a few moments had fought the old deacon to a standstill. The old deacon knew that he was right, but he could not prove it to the blacksmith. He burst into tears and said, “Well, I cannot argue with you, but I simply want to say, I have a deep spiritual concern for your soul,” and then left the shop.

The deacon made his way home and went in to his wife and said, “I am only a botch on God’s work. God knows I am sincere and that I really do desire the salvation of the blacksmith but I could not meet him in argument. He laid me out cold in five minutes.” Then the deacon went into his own room by himself and knelt down. “Oh, God,” he cried, “I am only a botch on Thy work. Thou knowest that I sincerely desired to lead the blacksmith to Thee, but I could not talk with him. Oh, God, I am only a botch on Thy work.”

But soon after the deacon had left the blacksmith shop, the blacksmith went into the house and said to his wife, “Deacon —— brought up an argument to-day that I never heard before. He said he had a deep spiritual concern for my soul. What did he mean?” His wife was a canny woman and said, “You had better go and ask him.” The blacksmith hung up his apron and went cross lots to the deacon’s home. Just as he stepped on the front porch, through the open window he heard the deacon’s prayer, “Oh, God, I am only a botch on Thy work. Thou knowest that I sincerely desired to lead the blacksmith to Thee but I could not talk with him. Oh, God, I am only a botch on Thy work.” He pushed the door open and went into the room where the deacon was kneeling and said, “Deacon, you are no botch on God’s work. I thought I knew all the arguments for Christianity and could answer them but you brought up an argument I never heard before. You said you had a deep spiritual concern for my soul. Won’t you pray for me?” and the blacksmith broke down and accepted Christ. Real earnestness and love succeed where all argument fails.

When we have genuine care for others it gets godly results – and indeed Scripture confirms it in
Isaiah 58:10–12 NKJV
If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
Clearly Timothy was one who sought the welfare of others. Seeks. It is a very active word. It is not just casually looking out for someone but purposely thinking about and acting upon it as we read about the old deacon in our story. Paul then goes on to say that he and Timothy care about the things which are of Christ Jesus.
The JB Phillips version says:
All the others seem to be wrapped up in their own affairs and do not really care for the business of Jesus Christ.
This has to do with loving our neighbours as ourselves. This is about love for God shown in loving others. Paul wants everyone to have the same soul-likeness as him.
Well, actually, Paul is expecting more than that, that is, to have the same soul-likeness as Jesus Christ. For Jesus has a genuine care for our affairs. Here again we find that Paul centres all his thinking, all his life upon Christ. Christ did not care for his own things but in caring for others. A prime example of Jesus doing this was with the story of the Samaritan woman in:
John 4:28–35 NKJV
The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” Then they went out of the city and came to Him. In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!
His care was for the woman’s soul and for the city of the Samaritans. On another occasion his family thought he was mad because he had not eaten. How far are we to go as disciples of Jesus? Are we willing to go without the basic necessities for the sake of others, for the sake of Christ?
Timothy is of the same mindset as Christ is Paul’s claim – and we would do well to follow his example. To take our eyes off ourselves and what we want and care for those whom Christ came to save. It is something that Paul has already mentioned earlier on in this chapter but to hear his words again:
Philippians 2:3–4 NKJV
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Calvin translated verse 21 as: they were ‘so warm in pursuing their own interests that they were cold in the work of the Lord’.
22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.
And Timothy’s character was well-known to the Philippians who had seen him tested and had proved what kind of man he was. Of course his very name means ‘one who honours God’ – and his life reflected it. A former pastor of mine used to say: God honours those who honour Him.
Timothy had served with Paul in the Gospel for ten years – and what Paul is saying really is ‘like father, like son’. Again it is because Timothy has learned his trade through Paul. Paul was the pre-eminent example of living for Christ and the Gospel. Paul doesn’t want followers of him but followers with him. So, not just like father, like son but fellow workers together. Not son serving his father but serving with him.
23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. 24 But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.
Paul starts out with trust in the Lord in verse 19 that he will be able to send Timothy to them and then ends in verse 24 with trusting in the Lord that he himself will be able to go. He begins and ends with trust in the Lord. That kind of sums up our lives: trust in the Lord. Without faith or without trust it is impossible to please the Lord.
All in all this passage is a commendation of Timothy to the Church at Philippi. Just as we read also earlier in this chapter that Jesus in his humility took on the cross we should be like-minded. Timothy is like-souled and serves as an additional example. His care was for them – a real, compassionate care. One must look out for number one, of course. We hear that a lot don’t we? Look out for number one. They mean we should be looking out first for ourselves. Well, I agree we really should be looking out for number one for in the topsy-turvy world of the Kingdom of God and in the light of the cross number one is not ourselves but God and our neighbour.
Can these words be attributed to us:
20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.

Benediction

1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Bibliography

Brown, D. R. (2013). Lexham Bible Guide: Philippians. (D. Mangum, Ed.). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Hughes, R. K. (2007). Philippians: the fellowship of the gospel. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Leadership Ministries Worldwide. (1996). Galatians–Colossians. Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide.
Osborne, G. R. (2017). Philippians: Verse by Verse. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Runge, S. E. (2011). High Definition Commentary: Philippians. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Torrey, R. A. (1907). Anecdotes and illustrations. New York: Fleming H. Revell Co.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 17:03 25 May 2018.
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