Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

Two Examples of Christian Service

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Well, if you're able, pleaseremain standing and let's hear God's Word from Philippians Chapter Two, Verses Nineteen throughthirty, Philippians two, nineteen through thirty. I hope in the Lord Jesus,to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheeredby news of you, for I have no one like him who will begenuinely concerned for your welfare, for they all seek their own interests, notthose of Jesus Christ. But you know, Timothy's proven worth. How, asa son with a father, he has served me in the Gospel.I hope, therefore, to send him just as soon as I see howit will go with me, and I trust in the Lord that shortly Imyself will come also. I have thought it necessary to send to you epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier and your Messenger and minister tomy need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressedbecause you heard that he was ill. Indeed, he was ill, nearto death. God had mercy on him, and not only on him, buton me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I amthat more eager to send him there, for that you may rejoice at seeinghim again and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in theLord with all joy and honor such men, for he nearly died for the workof Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your serviceto me and God bless his word to us. You may be seated.Well, these verses we have some travel logistics, we have some commands andinstructions about comings and goings, very personal instructions from Paul to the Philippians involvingsome particular people, two men, Timothy and Epaphroditus, men that were livingat this particular time. We're known to both Paul and the Philippians, butnot known except through the pages of scripture, to us. Now these kinds ofpassages often occur at the end of Paul's letters and for that reason somepeople think, wrongly, that this is indication that this letter has been compiledto get together in some strange and odd way, that some redactor did didn'trealize or didn't respect the fact that Paul ended his letter at Verse Thirty inChapter Two and then added on some other kind of thing piecing these things together. But if you pay attention to these verses, you see very quickly thatit's much more than travel logistics or some basic instructions. And even in thosewhen we have them at the ends of Paul's letters or in the middle orwhatever the case may be, we find that if we pay attention, they'renever there in a kind of random way or for no purpose. I'm allof God's Word is profitable for teaching, reprove correction and training in righteousness,including passages like these, but you have to pay attention. You have tothink about what Paul, or whoever the author is, is doing. Howis it he is I'm weaving these instructions that are to be carried out bythese particular people in a particular time and place. How those instructions apply tous, particular people in a particular time and place? We have no timothyto receive. He's dead, same with...

Epaphroditus, same with Paul. Andyet there are there are instructions here and even examples that go much broader anddo instruct us in a number of things. To see how these things are woventogether, how these five how these instructions here to the Philippians about thesetwo men are connected with the rest of the book. I want to doa little bit of review with you and see how Paul is bringing this particularsection of the letter to a close. The this section that I just mentionedstarts back in chapter one of verse, Verse Twenty Seven, one, versetwenty seven, and he says this. Only let your manner of Life BeWorthy of the Gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come to comeand see you or an absent, I may hear that you are standing firmin one spirit and one mind, striving side by side for the faith ofthe Gospel. He goes on from there, but focusing on just that first part, this one thing I want to tell you just this. Only letyour manner of Life Be Worthy of the Gospel. This is how Paul beginson this section that goes all the way up to this point that we've readthis evening. He begins by saying that because of God's salvation, because ofthis good news about Jesus Christ coming into the world and dying for sinners likeme, like you, because of that news, our lives should be livedin a particular way. Our lives should be lived in a way that's worthyof God revealing himself in the world. In other words, when God shedsthis or makes manifest a salvation as great as this, we should respond notonly in believing the good news about Jesus and his salvation, the salvation thathe brings, not only believing it, but in acting in accordance with it. There is this way in which scripture is so clear on this point,that faith in Jesus always flows forth in actions, Christian actions, Christ likeactions, and it's because of that that, after this instruction, I'm soon Paulgives us testimony about our savior. He talks to us about Jesus,he gives us his example and shows us. This is the what he this iswhat he did, this is the humility he bore forth. This isthe on the way in which he came into the world. We read it, for example, in verse five, he says, though he was inthe form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing tobe grasped, but emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men and being found in this humble form,this human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Well, this is our great hope, isn'tit? This is our very salvation. This is the very reason that welive the lives that we do, that we seek to please and honorGod. But it does also, of course, a great example to usof how we ought to live. So, to go back Paul Again, issaying we are to live our lives in a manner worthy of this Gospel, worthy of this salvation, and he gives some specifics about that. Howdo we live a life, manner, life in a manner worthy of theGospel of Christ? Well, he tells us in Verse Twenty Seven. Hesays we are to stand firm in one...

...spirit, with one mind, strivingside by side for the faith of the Gospel. What do you see,very briefly, what do you see in a passage like that? You seeunity, you see direction and you see courage. You see unity in theway that they are standing side by side for the faith of the Gospel.That's what it means to live a life, a man in a way, ina manner worthy of the Gospel. It's not just to live our livesindividually in a way wholly to God, but together, corporately as the bodyof Christ, he says, we are to stand firm in one spirit.There is to be this unity, but also direction. We're not just standingtogether huddling like a bunch of chicks to sort of wandering around collecting themselves together. We do it with a purpose, moving forward, with a particular goaland sight and vision in mind. And he says what that is. Sideby side for the faith of the Gospel. And he's given a number of examplesof this too, hasn't he, such as sending out epaphroditus with thisgift of sending and helping Paul in his Apostolic Ministry, providing for the meansfor these ministers to go forth and to spread the Gospel. But there's alsoin addition to unity and direction, there's courage. It comes out even moreclearly in Verse Twenty Eight, Again Chapter One, he says, and notfrightened in anything by your opponents. Even suffering, he says in Verse TwentyNine, is not to be feared but considered something akin and on the somethingon the same level as the as a gift of God. So this iswhat living life in a Christian way is like. It's what it means meansunity, it means direction, it means having courage, even in the faceof opponents, in the face of suffering. Now the converse is also true,and you get the specifics there in chapter two, verses three through four. Instead of standing in addition or complementing, standing firm and together, we areto do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility, countothers more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to hisown interests, but also to the interests of others. When we see ourselvesin Christ, it means seeing our pride slain. It means rejoicing in seeingour pride slain. It means rejoicing and being able to get on our kneesand wash the feet of others, to care and love for those in need. To See ourselves in Christ, to know the Gospel, is to seeself ambition tossed aside and to praise God for it, to finally be freeof oneself so that we might worship God and serve one another. Paul addsanother specific to that in verse twelve of Chapter Two. He summarizes some ofthese things and an adds one thing to it. He says as you havealways obeyed. So now, as not only in my presence but much morein my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, inlight of the Gospel of Christ, in light of everything that God has donefor us, in saving us from our selfishness and saving us from our prideand saving us from our brokenness as a people, as humanity, and bringingus together, uniting us together in holy...

...and even holy spiritual love. Wehave much to be prayed we have meet much to be thankful for, butalso to stand before God in fear and trembling for all that he has done. He adds more specifics to this in verse fourteen. No grumbling or disputing, but like shining stars in the darkness of the world, instead of arguingand complaining and tarnishing the Gospel Message by which we have been saved, weare to offer our lives up to God as a sacrifice of worship. Evenin the midst of suffering, even in the midst of suffering one another,even in the midst of our disunity and our disagreements and our struggles, weare called to offer ourselves up to God and in doing so we become likebright lights in the sky. So, as we hear these various things again, just summarizing and tying them all together in a brief way, we havebefore US instructions, clear and beautiful instructions, about how we live our lives asChristians. We live our lives as those who have been Gospel fied,to make up a word, as those who have been changed in this wayby the Gospel, by this news that has come, news that has notonly come to our ears in just a hearing way, but has come toour hearts and changed, changed them the spirit of God working in us tobelieve, to hope and to see one another in a new light. Welive our lives as those who have been Gospel fied. But it means alsonot trekking out apart on our own, away from Christ and his body,but striving for unity, group, courage and direction because of the Gospel andfor the Gospel. So this is what Paul has been telling us, thisis what he's been opening up been explaining to us in various ways. Now, Paul, it may seem that Paul has kind of left all this behindfor the sake of these travel logistics, but, as I've said, heof course, has not. What has he done? Well, he's givenus, in addition to the example of Christ and an existion to his ownexample, which we've touched on before, he now gives us these examples ofthese two men, Timothy and epaphroditus. He gives this these examples, asa way to fill out and explain and inspire perhaps even the way forward andthe kind of life that he is calling us to live. Personally, Ifound the very helpful to have role models in my own life, people thatI know and I look up to and say that is someone to worth following, and I think that's true for all of us. It's so helpful tonot only hear a command be wise, be loving, but to see itin action, but to see it in action, to see it lived outin the all the complications of life. Sometimes we draw directly from it andwe say, Oh, I saw ah how she did that, I sawhow he did that, I can do the same thing. But sometimes it'snot even as simple as that. Sometimes, as we say, it's sort ofthinking of ourselves in that person's shoes,...

...kind of situating ourselves and we say, okay, this is a holy person, this is a person whoknows what it means to live their lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel. What would they do? What would they do in this kind of situation? These examples that Paul gives us here is yet another one of God's blessingsto us. It's yet another one of the ways that God teaches us.The Word of God says that Christ and his ascension poured out gifts on hischurch, and those gifts are apostles and prophets and evangelists and teachers, menlike Timothy and epaphroditus. These gifts, these men holy examples in the worldand in our lives to show us the way forward. And that's exactly whatwe see here in these in these two men, in Philippians too, andTimothy and epaphroditus. Let's take them each in turn and and see what wecan learn. First, Timothy. Paul says that he hold to send Timothyto them. Timothy, as we know from here and from other places inscripture, was one of Paul's some companions and and fellow workers, but he'svery close to him as well. He knew him for a long time andhad mentored him and excuse me obviously thought very highly of him, but noticewhy he thinks highly of Timothy. Notice the kind of works that Timothy isgoing about doing and striving after. Paul, amidst all the people that are persecutinghim and troubling him, says, and Verse Twenty, I have noone like him who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. Do you seewhat the Apostle of God prizes? He prizes this one not because he's wealthyor because he's fabulously smart or is able to do some amazing things, butbecause he is genuinely concerned for the your welfare. He loves the PHILIPPIANS FROMHIS HEART. That is something to be prized. Paul says, I haveno one like this, and he gives the opposite, as we sort ofsaw before. He says, for they all seek their own interests, notthose of Jesus Christ. Isn't that interesting how he parallels those two things?There that Timothy genuinely is concerned for the interest of the Philippians, which PaulParallels with not seeking his own interests but those of Jesus Christ. It isto say that Timothy, in pursuing Jesus Christ, is at the same timepursuing Christ's people. To pursue Christ's people is to pursue Jesus Christ. Itis his body after all. Is How the scripture speaks of it and howwe speak of it. He then says in Verse Twenty Two, you knowTimothy's proven worth. How has a son with a father. He has servedwith me in the Gospel. Timothy is a hard worker and has treated Paulvery well. Learned from him, grown in, grown from him and histeaching, for the purpose not of just becoming a appallite but of serving together. That unity right, even like a father and a son together moving forward. In the Gospel. Then epaphroditus. He calls epaphroditus my brother, myfellow worker and fellow soldier and your Messenger...

...and minister to my need. Whatprobably happened here is that epaphroditus, as he was going from the Philippians toPaul, got really sick on the way and on that way met some kindof messenger who went back to the Philippians and told them epaphroditus is really sick. Epaphroditus continues on his journey to go see Paul, but then, bythe time he gets there, they get word that the Philippians not only knowthat epaphroditus is sick, but that he's very sick and they are very worried. They've sent him out to go take care of this need and and nowthey hear that he is sick. And Paul says, yeah, he wassick. Indeed, he almost died. Mentions it twice. The the longerpassage with more details comes in verse thirty. He says he nearly died for thework of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in yourservice. To me, I'm Paul is not chastising the Philippians here, buthe's simply saying epaphroditus was sent out to do a service and he was committedto fulfill that fulfill that service again for the sake of the Gospel. Youhear how all of these people, in various ways, are living their livesin a way that is honoring to God. On Epaphrodite is risking his life forthe sake of ministering the Paul for serving alongside him as a fellow workerand fellow soldier. Notice also not only epaphroditus is hard work this kind ofdirection and courage that we talked about earlier, but again also that unity and lovein verse. Twenty six for he has been longing for you all andhas been distressed because you heard that he was ill. He's distressed because they'redistressed and they're distressed because he's sick, and everybody's worried, but it's outof love, right. There's genuine concern for each other, there's genuine knowledgeof the and unity among the among one another, and so Paul, I'mdesiring to be a blessing to them and, having received the gift that they hadsent, even though epaphroditus is very valuable to him, ascends him back. And here you see Paul's love. You see Paul's love as well.He's just he has timothy, the only one who is of help to him, and here he's just received epaphroditus, a fellow worker, a fellow soldier, someone who's genuinely concerned about the right things and doing the right things andis a man even willing to risk his own life. And here's Paul injail, hoping to get out soon, but not nest, not knowing thatwith any guarantee and he sends both of these encouragers and helpers back to thePhilippians. Why? For their sake, you see, how this, theChurch of God is, is all together, bowing down to one another, notin worship but in service and in love, seeking to serve one another, seeking the other's interests. And so in these two examples, and Timothyand epaphroditus, and implicitly in Paul and somewhat in the Philippians, we beginto see these these rich, full blooded examples of what it means to livelife in the Church with this kind of Gospel, Unity, Gospel, directionand courage, mission love, things that...

...sometimes bring us much persecution, excuseme, and even death. But never mind it, never mind them,the Christian says, for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake oftelling others about Jesus, for the sake of growing together in unity and love. It's more than worth it. It's more than worth it because of whatour God has done and the way that's that he blesses us through it.Now, of course, would make sense for Paul to say to receive thesemen with rejoicing and with joy, and he does that in Verse Twenty Nine. And it would also make for a sense for him to say that theyshould be honored, but he doesn't say that exactly. Instead, he saysreceive him. That is epaphroditus in the Lord, with all joy and honors such men. Here we see that these this command or these examples givenare not just for the Philippians and these particular men, but there's something tohere, to be learned after on buy all of us to honor these kindsof people, to be joyful about having them in our myths, to tostrive to be like them and be them ourselves. In these verses we hearwhat it is to be prized among God's people. It is not to bethat someone with great authority or power, it is not to be someone whoa bullies people or has a lot of control or is very knowledgeable in allthings, but it is to be one who's filled with love, and genuine, genuine love and service for others, not for the sake of gaining credibilityor points with God or being puffed up, but for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of what God has done for us self. Sacrificefor the sake of the Gospel wholly living, courage and love for the brothers.These are the things that God calls us to honor, to see andto strive after. With these kind of examples before us and, of course, others that perhaps you are thinking of people in your own lives, letus respond not with hard hearts and heavy feet, but let us respond withfaith. Let us respond and seeing the good gifts that God is giving us, to seeing the gospel not only preached but lived out in the lives ofour brothers and sisters, and not only see it and honor it and praiseGod for it, but to do the same. We hear of these examples, when we hear of the Gospel, respond. Go to your sister andserve her, go to your brother and meet his need and love. Striveto be people like Timothy and epaphroditus and Paul. Follow in their way andfollow with confidences, because their way is a gospel way. Paul will saythis explicitly later on in chapter three, verse Seventeen, and will revisit someof these things when we get there, but I'll tell read it to younow. He says, Brothers, join in imitating me and keep your eyeson those who walk according to the example you have in us. You See, then, we don't need to be ashamed at honoring and esteeming those whohonor and esteem Christ and his ways. We need not be ashamed at imitatingthem and others like them. Why?...

Because it in doing so we arehonoring and esteeming our Lord, because he is, after all, the onethey are following. These men and women that God gives to us in ourlives, that point the way forward, that point us to Jesus, areones to be followed, because they're pointing in the right direction. Of course, we don't worship them or or idolize them, but we do follow afterthem. It is God, Paul reminds us in verse thirteen of Chapter Two, who works in us, to will and to work for his good pleasure. When we see him working in our brothers and sisters, when we seeexamples like Timothy and Paul and epaphroditus, we are right to give praise toGod who is working in them, remembering also what Paul said in chapter one, verse six, that he who began a good work in us will bringit to completion. It's true that we can follow after men, worshiping andidolizing them, and we must not do that. To do that would beto fail to follow the example that they are setting. But at the sametime, we must not learn, or we must not fail to learn fromthe living examples that God gives us to lead, to lead us in theright ways, to go back to where we began. Christ gives these giftsto us. He gives, in our lives and in the pages of scripture, people to point the way, to point the way to the Gospel andto the way of Gospel Living, to show us what it means to believein Jesus Christ and to live our lives in a manner worthy of that belief, of that good news. May God grant us that kind of faith,that kind of ability to see and to know who to follow and who tostrive to be like. Let us pray.

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