Looking Out for Jesus

Philippians 2:19-30

In this section, Paul moves back into some personal comments.  He is talking about two other men who are with him, but who are not prisoners, Timothy and Epaphroditus.  In the first several verses, Paul is telling the Philippians that he is planning to send Timothy back to them so that he can bring more news back to Paul about how the Philippians are doing.  Then comes what is probably the most significant part of the passage from our point of view:

I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.

Philippians 2:20-22

Isn’t it interesting that Paul says he has no one else like Timothy, because he will show “genuine concern” for the Philippians?  He explains what he means by that when he says that everyone “looks out for their own interests” and “not those of Jesus Christ.” Think about that for a moment: Wouldn’t you have expected Paul to say ‘not those of others’ instead? “Everyone looks out for their own interests, but not everyone looks out for the interests of others.” That’s what I would expect him to say here, since what came just before this was Paul’s observation that Timothy would have genuine concern for the Philippians. What’s going on here?

Let’s see if we can solve this little riddle.  Paul has been encouraging the Philippians to live lives “worthy of the gospel” and in the process he has discussed unity in the Body of believers, along with service, humility and putting others first.  Now, he cites Timothy as someone who will show the people genuine concern and who will look out for the interests of Christ.  We must conclude from this that showing genuine concern for one another is looking out for the interests of Jesus Christ. Why would we be concerned about others?  Because we want to serve Jesus by looking out for His people.

This is what Paul is doing by writing this loving letter.  This is what it means to put others first. This is what loving our brothers and sisters is all about, and it results from our love of God.  God loved us, we love Him. God loves our brothers and sisters, so we love them too. Thus, when we love one another and care for one another, we are putting not only the interests of others ahead of our own; we are putting the interests of Jesus Christ first in our lives. This then, is “making disciples”: Caring for others because they are loved by, and important to, our Lord.

Verses 25-30 are mostly about Epaphroditus. We gather from these verses, that he was sent to Paul with the most recent news from Philippi. Apparently, while he was with Paul, he became seriously ill, but has now recovered. You might notice the tender way in which Paul speaks of him, and about Paul’s relief that he has recovered. Now, he would like to send Epaphroditus back to Philippi with Timothy so that they can see how much better he is doing.

If we look carefully at these verses, what we will see is that Paul is showing genuine concern for both Epaphroditus and for the Philippians; he is looking out for the interests of Jesus Christ, and thus he is giving us another practical example of this teaching.  Pretty cool, don’t you think?

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