The Power of a Good Example                   click here for audio
Philippians 2:19-30

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.

25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.

This is sermon #11 in our series in the book of Philippians.  We have seen a great number of commands,  directives,  and appeals from the Apostle Paul which help us in living a JOYFUL life for Christ.   We’ve heard such things as:

  • let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ 1:27
  • it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 1:28
  • being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind 2:2
  • Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.2:3-4
  • Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 2:5-8
  • 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling
  • Do all things without grumbling or disputing 2:14
  • 16 holding fast to the word of life 2:16
Now,  this is covering quite a bit…. There’s much that’s been read, and said over the past 10 Sundays, and I don’t know about you,  but I could use some help.   At this point  I could use a good illustration.   I know the Lord Jesus is the best illustration.  When Paul says,  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Don’t look at your own interest, but take interest in others.   Be humble.  Be like Christ. Think about how   he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Is there someone who has done that?   Can we point to someone who has followed the example of Christ?   Is there someone who is a good example of a life of humility?



It was in 1995 that the great baseball star Mickey Mantle died of cancer.  He was 63.  He feared that he had failed to fulfill career expectations because of alcohol abuse.  The former New York Yankees center fielder and a member of baseball’s Hall of Fame said  at a news conference before his death that to his admirers he was no role model.  “God gave me the ability to play baseball. God gave me everything.” He said.  “For the kids out there, don’t be like me.”

How often we make the mistake of holding up celebrities as role models.

C.H. Spurgeon said:
 


“A man's life is always more forcible than his speech. When men take stock of him they reckon his deeds as dollars and his words as pennies. If his life and doctrine disagree the mass of onlookers accept his practice and reject his preaching.”



Maybe that’s why you hear people say,  don’t look at others,  keep your eyes only on Jesus.

We are to follow Christ because He is not only the BEST example;  He’s the Perfect Example to follow.    1Peter 2:21

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

To literally keep your eyes on Jesus,  you must be in heaven standing near his throne. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father.     Another way to keep your eyes on Jesus is to see Jesus at work in his servants.      Paul was an excellent example to follow because Christ was alive in his life.  It was Paul who said,  “For me to live is Christ..”  and certainly for Paul  every waking moment was spent living for the glory of Christ and the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 3:17

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.

This was not arrogance and pride on Paul’s part.  He put himself along with others who served as good role models to follow.  And this is what Paul does in Philippians 2:19-30.   He gives two good examples of humility and Christlikeness.

  1. The Example of Timothy -    Philippians 2:19-24
  2. The Example of Epaphroditus -  Philippians 2:25-30

  1. The Example of Timothy - A Minister of Compassion     vv.19-24
(a)  His submissive spirit – v.19

I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.  

Paul is going to send Timothy to the Philippian believers, so that Paul can be encouraged by news of them.  He will want to know how things are going with them.   He’ll want to know about Lydia, the lady from Thyatira, a seller of purple;    the young lady who had a spirit of divination;   the Philippian jailor and his family;  and then there’s  Euodia and Syntyche, how is it with them,  are they getting along much better.   Hearing of their progress in the gospel will be news to CHEER ME UP.

Paul does NOT say   “I will try to get Timothy to go,    or    I will ask..”    He knows  Timothy is set to go…. There’s no begging;  there’s no pleading…  He’s ready anytime.   Timothy does not say,  “well, if you can’t get someone else to go,  then I’ll go.”   Ever heard something like that before?

Timothy is submissive to Paul who is his spiritual father;    His spiritual mentor;   He is submissive to Paul because he is submissive to Christ.   This road trip which is 800 miles from Rome to Philippi is contingent upon one thing --- the will of God.   

Paul did not say,  “I hope to send Timothy”,  but rather    “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy”.   There’s a difference.       He hints at this again in v.23  “I hope therefore to send him…” and again in v.24  “and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.”

There’s no danger of following someone who is submissive to the will of God.  They will not lead you in the wrong direction.



(b)  His compassionate heart – vv. 20-21

v.20    Paul says  “I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.”

Here’s the thing about Timothy -    He has a genuine concern for people.    He’s not in this thing for himself.   He’s not seeking to “feather his own nest”;  to improve his status; or  to promote himself before others.     Paul says  “I have no one like him”   He is like minded,  has a servant’s heart which is a compassionate heart.  

v.21     For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.  

I don’t think Paul is referring to Luke because he is no longer in Rome.  I believe Paul is referring to those mentioned in chapter 1:

16 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry

17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.

This is not true for Timothy.  He’s the real deal.    He’s authentic.    He’s someone you can trust.  His interest is those of Christ,  and that means he has concern and interest for the welfare of the church at Philippi.   

You want to see an EXAMPLE of someone with a compassionate heart?     Look at Timothy.  Paul spoke of his tears in 2 Timothy 1.

2Timothy 1:4-5

 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

An Example is more caught than taught.   For Timothy it goes back to his mother and grandmother.  You can’t leave out a godly mother; and a godly grandmother when you speak of the Power of Example.



And it is Paul’s commendation of Timothy that prepares the congregation at Philippi to hear from Timothy.   Timothy, no doubt,  will give the congregation apostolic directions as if Paul was there. I think this is what Paul is doing by setting the stage for Timothy to speak authoritatively since Paul was not able to be there.

It’s much easier to get an audience when the messenger is genuine in his concern; and when He is a servant leader with a compassionate heart for the church.



(c)   His devoted companionship -  vv.22-24

22 But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.

Timothy is still young, but he has been around long enough to prove his worth,  or to prove his character.  The first verse in Philippians 1:1   Paul and Timothy, servants (slaves) of Christ Jesus.

Timothy has served WITH me,  not For me, but WITH me.  There’s a big difference.   Just like a devoted son works side by side with his father;  Timothy has served with me in the gospel.

23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.

Paul is not hasty in sending Timothy.  He wants Timothy to stay around until Paul knows what’s the verdict.  Timothy will do that because they are both devoted companions.  They are true friends in the ministry.   Timothy has proved time and time again that he will be there for Paul.

What about Paul?    What would he do upon his release from prison in Rome?   Here again, it’s in the hands of the Lord.   v.24  and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.

Paul is saying,  “he will be with them shortly, only if the Lord allows it.”   That’s where Timothy would be, Paul’s devoted companion,  his spiritual son, his fellow brother in Christ.

Not only is Paul going to send Timothy,  he is going to send another servant,  Epaphroditus.  He is another Excellent Example for the believers to follow.
  1. The Example of Epaphroditus - A Messenger of Help -  Philippians 2:25-30
All we know of Epaphroditus is what we have here in Philippians.  His name appears in chapter 4, also.   In chapter 4 we read that Epaphroditus was sent to Paul by the Philippian church with financial aid.

Philippians 4:18

18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

The Philippian church sent one of their own, a devoted servant of the Lord, Epaphroditus with an offering to minister to the needs of Paul.  They had heard he was in prison,  and if you’re in a Roman prison, you are at the mercy of family and friends on the outside to support you with your needs.

Not only did the Philippian church want Epaphroditus to carry this offering, but they wanted him to stay close to Paul and be of help to him.  There’s a problem.    Epaphroditus had gotten sick along the way.  From Philippi to Rome was a distance of about 800 miles taking at least 6 weeks to get there.   Traveling with money you had companions.   You can read in 2 Corinthians 8:16-22 and see how a group of men traveled together with a special offering from the Macedonia churches.  This was good for accountability purposes and for protection.  Paul said in 2Corinthians 8:20 we did this “so that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us.”

So it may have happen like this.  Epaphroditus got sick while in route to see Paul.  One of the companions with him may have returned back to Philippi to let them know of his illness. It could have been they met someone who was going back in that direction, and they could relay the news.  If one of the companions left returning to Philippi, another companion could have stayed with Epaphroditus to help him in his sickness.  When Epaphroditus arrived to see Paul,  he was still sick and Paul writes this Philippian letter and sends it with Epaphroditus back as soon as he was well enough to travel.

He nearly died, but God had mercy on him.  Paul says,  “God had mercy on me too, because if he had died it would have been sorrow upon sorrow.  I am eager to send him back, because you have heard he was sick, and it would be more anxiety upon me for him to stay with me.

Epaphroditus was a Messenger of Help.  How did he help Paul?
  1. His Help to Paul
(1) My brother -   Paul is saying, he’s my brother in the Lord.  We’re not strangers, we are part of the same family of faith.  We’ve been adopted into the family of God.  God is our father, and we serve the Lord together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

(2) Fellow worker –  Paul sees Epaphroditus as a fellow worker, and not as someone serving in the low ranks of Christian service.  We are on the same mission field.  Maybe different areas of responsibility, yet we serve for the same cause.   Notice how Paul addresses his fellow workers in Philippians 4:2-3

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Epaphroditus was a fellow worker who about worked himself to death.  He took no thought for his health, he was more concerned for the work of the gospel.

(3) Fellow soldier – This speaks of the warfare they were both a part of.  Paul along with Epaphroditus were fellow soldiers fighting the good fight of faith.  It’s a spiritual battle and it’s no time to be jealous over rankings and titles and positions in God’s army.  Regardless of where God has placed you,  we are all fellow soldiers, and Christ is our General, and our commanding Officer.     

Soldiers take great risk.  This was the case for Epaphroditus.  Notice in v.30  “for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.”    The Philippian Believers could not all be there, but in their place was Epaphroditus doing their part, completing this sacrificial service to Paul.

Epaphroditus did not die on the battlefield of service, but you can say he was wounded and needed to go back home for some much needed rest.
  1. His Help to the Philippians
 

Your messenger and minister to my need -    The word “messenger”  means apostle.  Just like Paul was an apostle on a mission.   Epaphroditus was an apostle (or messenger) on a mission to travel 800 miles to Rome, Italy to bring an offering to the Apostle Paul and to be a minister to his needs.

 
  1. His Love for the Philippians
26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill.

Epaphroditus had been distressed.    Why?     It wasn’t because he was sick,  but rather because they (the Philippian church) had heard he was sick.        He wasn’t all stressed out  because he was sick.     He was stressed out because they had heard he was sick.     Here we see his love for the church back home.

Epaphroditus is so different from most people.    Most people want you to know how sick they’ve been;  and all the doctors they’ve seen;  and all the drugs they’ve taken….  And think of me,  it’s been bad for me,  it’s been really tough……we’re like that,  I know I’m that way.    I get sick and everything shuts down and everything is about me,  poor ole’ me with an ill attitude.

Epaphroditus had great distress, but it wasn’t over his illness.   It was for the folks back home who had heard that he was ill.   His concern was for them.

  1. His Desperate Need for Help
27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.



Just how sick was Epaphroditus?     He nearly died.  If it wasn’t for God intervening, he would have died.    But God had mercy on him,…   I love that.  Paul appreciated the great support and help from the Philippian church.   He appreciated the help from Epaphroditus,  but He TRULY appreciated the help from God.      God had mercy on Epaphroditus by allowing him to live and not die.    It was mercy on Paul as well, because if Epaphroditus had died it would have meant more grief for Paul.

Thank God for his mercies.   For salvation mercies.  For his mercy in loving us and saving us.

Ephesians 2:4

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

 

For Everyday mercies we experience.     We don’t deserve his mercies.

 

Lamentations 3:22-23

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;     his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning;     great is your faithfulness.

  1. A Heroes Welcome
28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.



Paul writes to the Philippian church -   I’m sending him back  so you may rejoice at seeing him again.

It will take a lot of worries off of me.  



HCSB -    v.29  Therefore, welcome him in the Lord with all joy and hold men like him in honor,

Why the emphasis on welcoming him back?   With all joy?  And hold men like him in honor?

That culture was an honor and shame culture.   The purpose was for Epaphroditus to stay with Paul and tend to his needs.  It wasn’t planned for Epaphroditus to return so soon.  Coming back with an unfinished mission was considered by them to be shameful, or disgraceful.

Paul writes the letter telling them to welcome him in the Lord with all joy and hold men like Epaphroditus in honor.

It’s like a team you’ve been supporting and cheering for…they make it to the finals.  They come home unable to declare victory….they did not come home with a trophy,  yet you welcome them back because they are your team.  You’ve been supporting them and you will continue to honor them as your team.

Speaking of Epaphroditus Paul says ….



30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.

He took great risk…  putting his life on the line.   He was out there trying to complete the task that was the responsibility of the Philippian church. 

He came back knowing the job was not finished. 

Many of God’s men and women have taken great risk in God’s service returning with an unfinished taks.  Many a missionary has come home knowing the mission is not completed.

Many a pastor has gotten either too sick, or too old to preach knowing the job is not finished.



The life of Timothy – a Minister of compassion

The life of Epaphroditus – a Messenger of Help

And of course Paul, the Apostle of Joy

They could not by themselves do the work that was assigned to them.   There were many other unsung heroes of the faith working side by side.  Many others who were not seeking their own interest, but only the interest of Jesus Christ. 

They were all outstanding EXAMPLES of humility.    Examples of true brothers and sisters;  fellow workers;   fellow soldiers in the battle for the advancement of the gospel.

I will email Pastor Julio Espinoza in Los Moches, Mexico and tell him that we will pray for the completion of their building project.  We will pray for the Russian Christians who come to work on their building. 

I pray we will seek the Lord’s will in supplying financial aid in helping to see their church built.



I like what Edgar Guest says in his poem   “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day”

  I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way. The eye is a better pupil, more willing than the ear; Fine counsel is confusing, but example is always clear, And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds, For to see a good put in action is what everybody needs.



Prayer –

Thank you Heavenly Father -  for the Example of Christ ….His perfect example of humility and service…thank you for your servants…that we’ve studied together….may we follow their example to be more compassionate and seek to help in the ways we are able to do.  

In our weakness, and the times of illness we thank you for your mercies.   I pray our hearts will long only for Your will to be done.    Save the lost.  I pray for the unsaved to be broken in their sins; and seek saving grace in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Help us to be examples of Christ in our daily lives, when we get up each day and go about our work.

Have your will in each heart we pray in Christ name

Amen.