This week Van Vandegriff continued our To The Philippians series with a message on living for others.
Four Ways to Apply This Week’s Message:
- 1. Commit your relational wants, needs and desires to Jesus, trusting Him to satisfy above all else.
- 2. Put yourself in environments where your own relational rough edges are blunted and blind spots are discovered. Lifegroups and volunteer teams are a great starting place for this at Antioch.
- 3. Serve others with no expectation of return from the individual(s), rather have a deep confidence that God promises that we will reap what we sow.
- 4. Watch as God surrounds you with a tribe with which to share life.
SCRIPTURE FOCUS: Living For Others // Philippians 2:19-30
As we discussed earlier, the relationship and partnership between Paul and the church in Philippi is an important theme throughout the book. In some ways, verse 19 feels like an abrupt change. Paul poured out his heart regarding how to live like Jesus and then suddenly shifted to an update on a few of his friends, and then, twelve verses later, we will see that he went right back into a theological discussion.
No one knows for sure the full context regarding these verses, but it appears that the Philippian church was worried about Paul’s well-being in his imprisonment and sent one of their own, Epaphroditus, to provide support for their spiritual father. It seems the church was also disturbed by emerging controversies and factions within their own community and asked Paul for guidance, potentially even requesting Timothy to visit in order to set things in order.
Beyond just answering these questions, Paul used this situation as a living example to describe one of the main points of the book: We are called to embrace the example of Jesus and live to serve others instead of ourselves. Paul presented a theological explanation for the importance of this truth in verses 1:27-2:18, and then highlighted two men who exemplified this principle lived out. While this section answered very real and important questions for the original audience, it also remains relevant to us as we learn from their example.
Paul viewed Timothy as a true spiritual son. We read in Acts 16:1-4 the account of how he first joined the ministry, growing into a major leader within the church, and it was to Timothy that Paul wrote his last letter. In fact, two whole books of the Bible are personal letters from Paul to Timothy. We see two attributes of Timothy highlighted in this passage that tie back into the broader theme of the book:
- Shows genuine concern for your welfare // Timothy embodied the principle of striving for the unity of the Spirit (1:27) and looking to the interests of others above his own (2:3). The church already knew this about Timothy’s character so Paul demonstrated him as an example of how we are called to live.
- Everyone else looks out for their own interest, not those who follow Jesus Christ // Paul upped the ante in his description of Timothy. “Everyone else” is a strong phrase (and intended as hyperbole) to highlight the fact that most people live for themselves. When someone lives for others they stand out. Like Paul, Timothy embraced “to live is Christ” (1:21). Ultimately, this must be our deepest motivation – a full surrender to Jesus. Out of this place, we turn around and strive for unity by sacrificially loving others.
While Timothy was widely seen as a leader within the church, Paul also carefully presented Epaphroditus as an example to follow. He is considered a brother, co-worker and fellow soldier – all descriptors to illustrate that he is worth honoring.
- He longs for all of you // This is similar to Timothy, who shows genuine concern for their welfare, and to Paul, who has them in his heart (1:7). “Longs” is an emotional word and highlights the fact that this man truly loves the Church with the love of Christ.
- He almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life… // This love went beyond mere words, like Paul and Timothy, he embraced the call, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” As a result, he should receive honor and should be lifted up as an example for us all to follow.
The church at Philippi had pressing concerns, but perhaps they missed what they really needed. More than a spiritual father coming to visit and set things straight, they needed to deal with their own hearts. Were they living wholeheartedly for Jesus? Or were they trying to also live for themselves? Were they genuinely putting others first? Or were they grumbling and dividing into factions based on their own interests? If we follow the example of Paul (1:3-26), Timothy (2:19-24), Epaphroditus (2:25-30) and ultimately Jesus Himself (2:5-11), then we too will find our own pressing needs start to diminish as we discover that “to live is Christ.”
By Van Vandegriff – Adult Pastor