The Mind of Christ (2): In Timothy
The Mind of Christ (2): In Timothy (Phil. 2:19-24) August 26, 2018 Mt 25; Gal 1; James 4 Read Phil 2:19-24: As Paul concludes this great chapter on thinking like Jesus, he gives 4 examples -- Jesus, Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus. Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus are all together in Rome where Paul has been under house arrest for some time. He will either die or be released soon, either way he’s sending Tim to see how the Philippians are doing. Paul first met Timothy on his 1st journey in Lystra (Acts 16). His mother was a Jewish believer; his father, an unbelieving Greek, Timothy was well-versed in the OT from mother, Eunice and grandmother, Lois. They quickly put their faith in Christ when Paul arrived and showed how Jesus fulfilled the OT prophecies. Timothy was in his early to mid-twenties at that time. On Paul’s 2nd journey to Lystra, Tim joined up. Thereafter Timothy was with Paul or somewhere Paul sent him. He was at the 1st visit to Philippi shortly after joining up. On Paul’s 3rd journey, he sent Timothy on ahead to Philippi until his later arrival. As he sits with Paul in Rome, Timothy’s been assisting Paul for more than 10 years. Now he wants to send him to back to Philippi. In sending Timothy, Paul is sending the best. Of all Paul’s helpers, Timothy was tops. They are kindred spirits. Paul referred to Timothy as “my true child in the faith” (I Tim 1:2), “my beloved son” (II Tim 1:2), “my beloved and faithful child in the Lord” (I Cor 4:17), “my fellow worker” (Rom 16:21). He had been Paul’s troubleshooter in Corinth, Thess, Ephesus and Philippi. When Paul cared enough to send the very best, he sent Timothy, his alter-ego. So it’s no surprise that Timothy has inherited many of Paul’s characteristics. They were like two peas in a pod. In Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers, he says of Mr. Harding, humble pastor of the tiny church of St. Cuthbert: “The Author now leaves him in the hands of his readers; not as a hero, not as a man to be admired and talked of, not as a man who should be toasted at public dinners and spoken of with conventional absurdity as a perfect divine, but as a good man without guile, believing humbly in the religion which he has striven to teach, and guided by the precepts which he has striven to learn.” That fits Timothy – and should fit all of us a little better as we see how he followed Paul in living out the mind of Christ. Three qualities. I. Self-sacrificing The hardest thing in the world is not to live for self. That was the original temptation in the Garden: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Eat the fruit. Be like God. And thus the default setting of mankind became “Me first.” But if that had been the mind of Christ, there’d be no us, that’s for sure. We’d have no hope beyond the grave. The mind of Christ? II Cor 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” That’s the mind of Christ – self-sacrificing devotion to others. And Tim had it. Paul’s commendation of Timothy is remarkable: 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.” “I have no one else who will be so concerned by your welfare – not a fake concern, pumped up out of a sense of duty, but a genuine concern. This is a guy who really cares.” And Paul drives the point home by contrasting Tim with others around him: “21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” Others are self-promoters! Their 1st concern is their own comfort. If Paul sent them they’d seek their own benefit. But not Timothy. He will put the Philippians first. One of the greatest youth ministers of the 20th century was – get this – a single woman, well into her 40’s when she took over a youth group of 450 kids at First Pres Hollywood. Her name – Henrietta Mears. Not exactly the fireball, fast-talking, dynamic young man you’d expect, right? But before long, that youth group was over 6500 kids. How? She taught the Bible. They called her “Teacher.” Her book, What the Bible is All About is still a favorite. She loved those kids selflessly. She never married, but poured her life into theirs. When she walked into a room, each person felt she was saying to him or her, “Where have you been? I’ve been looking all over for you.” Her selfless concern influenced a generation of remarkable leaders -- Billy Graham, Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ (which operated out of her home for 11 years), and Don Moomaw, Pres Reagan’s pastor at Bel Air Pres. A near-sighted, elderly woman who cared. Tim cared! How’d he learn that? Two clues are here. First, he emulated Paul. I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon.” Why is that significant? Well, here’s Paul – under house arrest – chained to a Roman guard 24/7. And many of the Xns in Rome who might have helped have done just the opposite. Remember 1:17: “The former [Roman Xns] proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.” Incredibly, there were Xns in Rome trying to afflict Paul! Under those conditions, no one would have criticized him for wanting to keep Timothy, who had served him “as a son with a father” (v. 22b). But not Paul. “You guys in Philippi need him more. I’m sending him to you.” Self-sacrificing love. The mind of Christ. Timothy saw it; Timothy emulated it. But there’s an even greater motive tucked away in v. 21 where Paul describes some of those Roman Xns: 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” By contrast, Timothy was not seeking his own interests, but those of Jesus Christ. So – in v. 20 Timothy could be counted on to have a genuine interest in the welfare of the Philippians; in v. 21 –the interests of Christ. It’s a cause/effect relationship. How do you genuinely care for others you don’t know well, or are not naturally attracted to, or who are difficult? You do it for Jesus. You don’t do it primarily for them; you do it for Jesus. Jesus taught this same principle. Describing himself as the king at his second coming, He said in Mt 25:34: “Then the King will say to those on his right [believers], ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” So, here’s a question. Seen Jesus lately? No. Well, let me tell you, you have. The wife you were angry with -- the husband who didn’t pick up his dirty clothes again – the person at church who ignored you, gossiped about you, blew you off – guess what? Jesus in disguise. A test to see if you’ll put their interests above yours. Will you do it for Jesus if not for them? Will you treat them as Jesus would – or as your old self demands? The mind of Christ is self-sacrificing – for those who deserve it, and those who don’t. No distinctions! II. Seasoned 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.” Paul could trust Timothy. He was seasoned. But that doesn’t happen overnight. Paul says concerning the appointment of elders in I Tim 3:6-7: “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.” Paul and Timothy both went thru a time of preparation. We think of Paul moving right from the Damascus Road to missionary of the year. Didn’t happen that way. Paul gives a brief autobiography in Gal 1:15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me [Damascus road], in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia [backside of the desert!], and returned again to Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him 15 days. . . . . 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia [Tarsus] 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.” Paul spent 10 years in Tarsus, training for leadership. Finally, Barnabas sought him out to come and minister with him in the dynamic, growing church in Antioch. But Paul was a dozen years in training before God unleased him on the world. Same with Timothy. Paul saw his potential when he met him on his first journey. But Paul left Timothy at home for seasoning before inviting him to join the team on his second journey. Paul had seen John Mark fail earlier on that 1st journey. Too much, too soon. But a seasoned Timothy proved a most valuable asset. He became a trouble-shooter that Paul sent to struggling churches. He had proven worth. But it came at the price of preparation. Also note, seasoned doesn’t mean perfect. Timothy had some human frailties. He lacked self-confidence. So Paul wrote to him in I Tim 4:12, “Let no one despise you for your youth,” and in 4:14, “Do not neglect the gift you have.” Timidness is no excuse! Timothy was tempted by youthful passions. So Paul wrote in II Tim 2:22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness.” These and more he overcame to become a seasoned, trustworthy partner to Paul. But it took time. Don’t get impatient with God, Beloved. Moses was 40 years getting a great physical education in Egypt, then another 40 years shepherding sheep, learning humility, before God turned him loose to lead one of the greatest escapades in history – the deliverance of Israelites from Egypt. Leadership doesn’t just happen. “Moses spent 40 years thinking he was somebody, 40 years learning he was nobody and 40 years learning what God can do with a nobody.” Listen – God will not waste any experience in your life – even the bad ones. He’s teaching all of us how the dependence, humility and commitment needed for ministry. Be patient; but be ready. We prepare for ministry by ministering -- in our little place – as Paul did during his hidden years back in Tarsus, God will bring more when we’re ready. The great Scottish pastor, Alexander McLaren told his students, “I thank God that I was struck down in a quiet, little, obscure place to begin my ministry; for that is what spoils half of you young fellows. You get pitchforked into prominent positions at once, and then fritter yourselves away in all manner of little engagements that you call duties instead of stopping at home and reading your Bibles, and getting near God. I thank God for the early years of struggle and obscurity.” So let’s embrace the patch that God has given us. Become seasoned where we are. Seasoned doesn’t mean perfect; it means mature and prepared. III. Submissive Timothy could play second fiddle. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me.” If it sounds like his life was not his own; it wasn’t! He was humble, flexible and useable. When Paul first asked Timothy to leave Lystra, he might have had a lot of reasons to stay. Paul wasn’t asking him to go on a pleasure cruise. He’d be preaching an unpopular message in difficult places. Persecution and hardship and eventually martyrdom were in Timothy’s future because he obeyed. But so was the crown of life. He knew and lived the truth of Rev 2:10 where Jesus told the church at Smyrna: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Timothy would never trade what he has for whatever he gave up in Lystra. Where did he learn this kind of flexibility, commitment and submission? Perhaps by watching Paul? It’s all over Paul. 19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon.” 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.” Do you see it? Every decision of Paul’s life was subject to change at the Lord’s command. Nothing was ever set in stone. It was always – as the Lord wills. We’re often way to busy imposing our will on God rather than His will on ours. This is true Xn living, Beloved. James 4:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” This is unnerving to most of us who like everything laid out nice and neat. Plans made and counted on. But are they under God’s authority – subject to change by Him? Timothy was. Paul was. John Chancellor anchored NBC news for many years. In retirement he was looking forward to doing many things he’d missed during his working years. But shortly after retiring he was diagnosed with stomach cancer which left him bitterly disappointed. I don’t know if he ever made peace with the Lord or not, but he made this pointed comment: “If you want to give God a laugh, tell him your plans.” Shouldn’t we plan. Yes – but always subject to changes by Him – submissive to His much greater, richer, fuller will. Conc – Not long ago some French scientists reported on an interesting experiment. They had taken some tissue from parts of the Japanese quail brain that control the bird’s sound and implanted it into the brains of 5 chicken embryos. Amazingly, the experiment worked. The hatched chicks sounded like quail rather than chickens. In at least that sense they had the mind of quails rather than the mind of chickens. Our goal as believers is to have the “mind of Christ.” So what does this example of the mind of Christ demonstrate – a life that is self-sacrificing, seasoned and submissive. Where is He trying to give us the privilege to surrender money, time, effort, ambition to His will. He’s asking us to life a life that sounds like Him; a life that looks like Him; life that thinks like Him; a life that obeys like Him. Can’t do it? Not on our own. But we all have the Holy Spirit within. He can. Now it’s a question of whether we will give ourselves to His regenerating influence, or follow our old nature. Together, let’s prefer His mind over ours. Let’s pray.