Hello, and welcome to this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque. We love hearing how God uses these teachings to reach people around the world. If this message impacts you, let us know. Email us at email@example.com. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/giving.
The apostle Paul knew the value of having true friends who stuck with him during difficult times. Timothy and Epaphroditus were two guys who helped shoulder Paul's burdens and brought him great joy. In the first installment of A Little Help from My Friends, Skip considers Timothy's friendship profile. Now please turn in your Bible to Philippians 2 as he begins.
Father, we thank You for our very breath that we breathe. Thank You for the life that You've given us. And Thank you for the opportunities that You set before us. Father, we pray now that Your Spirit would speak clearly to us broadening our understanding of Your will, Your design for our very existence. In Jesus' name, Amen.
The great missionary to India, E. Stanley Jones, said when I met Christ, it was as though I had swallowed sunshine. Isn't that a great statement? He was speaking of the joy that he experienced in meeting Jesus Christ. And then there was C.S. Lewis, a person that we've all probably read, that great British scholar, who said joy is the serious business of heaven.
And while I like that, I have to say it's the serious business of heaven, but it can be seriously challenged on Earth. And the greatest challenge usually is from other people. People can challenge our joy. That's the way it was with Paul the Apostle. He is in prison. But if you remember, back in Chapter 1, he spoke about those people who stir up trouble and make his chains even worse, his incarceration worse, than it was.
However, the right kind of people can add to your joy. They can increase your joy. They can enhance your joy. Why? Because they ease our burdens and they take the grind out of life. And I would add to that and say that as technology increases in our world, and as personal touch decreases in our world, that good friends, the right kind of people, are going to be in even greater demand.
Now let me have you take a test this morning. I'm going to ask you six questions. You can just answer them in your own mind.
But number one, name the five wealthiest people in the world. Just see if you can. You might come up with the first one or two, but can you name the five wealthiest people on Earth?
Number two, name the last five Heisman Trophy winners. I probably lost a lot of you right on that one. Number three, can you name the last five winners of the Miss America contest? Number four, name 10 people who have won a Nobel or Pulitzer Prize. And, number five, name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for Best Actor or Actress. And then, finally, number six, test is not over. Named the last decade's worth of World Series winners.
Now I bet you didn't do very well on that test. Even though these people represent the best in their fields, the truth is we forget yesterday's headliners. But there's more to the test. I'm going to ask you six more questions. You're going to do better on this part.
Number one, list a few teachers who helped you in your journey through school. Number two, name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time. Number three, name five people who taught you something worthwhile. Number four, think of five people you enjoy spending time with. And number six, name some heroes whose stories have inspired you. I bet you did great on that last part, right? You probably got all A's on that.
Here's the point. The people who matter to us are not the ones with the most trophies or wealth or beauty, but those who make the most impact in our lives are those who have cared the most for us in our lives.
You know, it's easy to forget that people like Paul the Apostle also needed friends. And Paul had friends. Can you think of a few? I immediately think of Luke, who was a companion of Paul the Apostle. I think of Barnabas. I think of Silas. I think of Aquila and Priscilla. Those were all Paul's friends.
But here in the book of Philippians, he names two more friends-- Timothy and Epaphroditus. I know you've heard of Timothy. Epaphroditus, some of you are a little sketchy on him. But you'll learn more about him next time. Timothy and Epaphroditus were both friends of Paul. They were both servants to Paul. And they both added enormous joy to Paul's life.
Now I'm going to bring you up to speed in this book before we jump into our text. Paul's theme is still humility, lowliness of mind he called it, serving one another, loving and caring for one another. And he has given us two examples-- the ultimate example, Jesus Christ. He said let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus even though He was in very nature God, yet He humbled Himself. So that's number one, Jesus, first example.
Second example, Paul himself, who said, I am willing to pour my very life out on the sacrifice of your faith. However, it would be easy for a reader like the Philippian church to read his letter and look at those two examples and say, well, I could never be that. I can't be exactly like Jesus or even the great Apostle Paul. Those are lives that are out of reach for me. And so Paul puts the cookies down on the lowest shelf so to speak. He says, OK, let me give you two more examples. Timothy is one and Epaphroditus is another.
So we're introduced in verse 19 to an ordinary guy named Timothy that Paul was sending to them. Verse 19 says, "But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that has a son with his father, he served with me in the gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly."
Let me give you a little bit of background on Timothy. Timothy was a young man who became a protege to the Apostle Paul. Paul met him on his first missionary journey. His first mission trip he went through Asia Minor, modern day Turkey. And he went into a little town called Lystra and then another one called Derbe. It was probably in that first town that he met Timothy.
Timothy was the son of a Jewish woman and the son of a unbelieving father. But on Paul's first mission trip, young Timothy gave his life to Christ. Later on, he will become part of Paul's mission team. On the second missionary journey, when he comes through town, he invites Timothy to join the greater Paul the Apostle evangelistic organization and he starts traveling now with Paul the Apostle.
So over time, this young man matures spiritually. And because friendship, like Rome, is not built in a day, it takes time to cultivate a mature love and a mature friendship. So what I want to show you out of our text are four qualities of a good friend or four qualities of mature friendship.
Now as we're going through this, here's what I'm hoping for. I'm hoping that as we process this together, you're not thinking man I need to find somebody like that who will be that kind of a friend to me. But I'm hoping you'll say I need to learn how I can be that kind of a friend to somebody else.
So let's consider now these four qualities of mature friendship. Number one, a good friend, a mature friend, is reliable. He's reliable. Verse 19 Paul says, "but I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly that I also may be encouraged when I know your state." So Paul makes the announcement that he plans to send Timothy on a journey to them.
Why? Why Timothy? Simply because Timothy is reliable. Timothy is the first person on a two person list of exemplary, faithful friends of Paul. I want you to think about that. I bet when it comes to your friends, you can count on one hand those who are reliable friends. I bet it's a very short list. You might have a lot of friends on Facebook, but Facebook friends are different from faithful friends. Timothy was faithful to Paul. He was reliable. I found a little interesting tidbit in the Journal of National Academy of Sciences that said most people tend to have between five and eight close friends.
So here's Paul's short list. And first on the list is Timothy. Timothy was reliable. It was Timothy that was sent by Paul from Athens to Thessaloniki, 1 Thessalonians 3. He was also sent from Ephesus to Corinth, 1 Corinthians 4. He was sent from Ephesus to Macedonia, Acts 19. Now he's sending him again on an errand to go all the way from Rome to Philippi, which is about 800 miles. It takes somebody reliable to pull that off.
Now go to verse 22 and notice something. Look at the very end of that verse, verse 22. It says, "He served with me in the gospel--" now watch this-- "therefore, I hope to send him at once as soon as I see how it goes with me." I want you to get that therefore. I want you to get that thought here.
What Paul is saying is because Timothy has been so reliable, Timothy is therefore become more valuable. He is valuable because he is reliable.
Now Paul wanted to go himself to Philippi. He announces that. I want to come, if I get out of here basically, if I see how it goes with me, if it goes well, I'll come. But if I can't come, the next best to me actually going to see you is to send Timothy.
Now how much of an honor is that? To go from Paul's son in the faith to Paul's servant in the faith to Paul substitute as he is being sent from Rome to Philippi. You know there's a principle in that I want you to get. Faithfulness is what will open the door to more fruitfulness. The more faithful you are, you just stay at it, stay at it, stay at it, that will open the door to more fruitfulness.
Now that's a servant's reward by the way. A servant's reward is getting to serve more. If you're not a servant, that is not a reward. People who are not servant-hearted, when they get asked to serve, they go oh, again? You want me to-- I've already done stuff. Do I have to volunteer? Get somebody else.
A servant says, I get to do more? Awesome. And they're in it to win it. And they'll see that as something that is a blessing not a curse.
There are two parables that Jesus gave in the Gospel of Matthew about this-- Matthew 24 and Matthew 25. In Matthew 24, it's a parable called the parable of the two servants. And Jesus makes this remark. "Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods." Faithfulness leads to fruitfulness.
The second parable in the next chapter, Matthew 25, is about the parable of the talents. Now don't think of talents as the ability to like sing and dance or something like that. We're talking about monetary commissions. So he gave talent-- five talents to one, two talents to another, one talent to another. This is money, bags of silver or gold.
Jesus said, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful over a few things. I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord." You remember that? Enter into the joy of your Lord. Most people think that means heaven. But I think what it means is you've been faithful, so now you're going to be more fruitful and the joy of your Lord is expanded service. That's the joy of your Lord. You get to do more.
So the principle is the more reliable you are, the more valuable you become. And faithfulness will lead to fruitfulness. So then the first quality of a mature friend is a good friend, a mature friend is reliable.
Second, a mature friend is compatible. In verse 20, Paul says, "For I have no one like-minded--" mark that word like-minded-- "who will sincerely care or naturally care for your state." In friendships, in fact in any relationship, we talk about compatibility. Are they compatible?
What we mean is there are personalities that are better suited to other personalities. And some personalities that just aren't suited to different ones. Even Aristotle, the great Greek thinker, noticed that there is what he called a natural affinity and friendship. That people will get together or gravitate toward other people who like the same thing they like. There's a compatibility of interest or a compatibility of goal.
So Paul uses the word, notice, like-minded. And the reason I'm having you notice the word is because the only single time it appears in the New Testament is here. It's never used anywhere else. The Greek word [SPEAKING GREEK], [SPEAKING GREEK] literally means equal souled or like souled. We are of one soul. Paul is saying of Timothy.
It's sort of like David and Jonathan. You remember in the Old Testament 1 Samuel 18, we were told the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David. They were like souled, equal souled.
C.S. Lewis once wrote true friends don't spend time just gazing into each other's eyes, but they face the same direction toward common projects, interests, goals, and above all toward a common Lord. So get this, Timothy and Paul had the same goal. Their goal was to serve God and to serve God's people.
But here's what's remarkable. There were hundreds of Christians at this time in the city of Rome. And Paul probably knew a bunch of them. In fact, at the end of his letter to the Romans, Romans 16, Paul lists personal friends, personal names, 27 personal names. So he must have known a lot of them. But what he's saying is of all the ones that I know at Rome, there is only one person who shares the same soul that I do. We are soul mates in that he has the same interests and the same goal for Christ that I do.
1 Corinthians 16:10, Paul describes Timothy, he does the work of the Lord as I do also. Twice in the very last letter Paul ever wrote in his life, 2 Timothy, he writes to Timothy saying twice you have carefully followed my doctrine, my manner of life, purpose, faith, suffering, love, and perseverance. Those guys are like souled, like-minded.
So find someone who pursues Jesus Christ as much as you do and walk into the future with that person. That's what I did with my wife. My wife Lenya and I, we're very similar in certain respects, but very, very different in others. But of all the differences that we have-- and I remember at first in our marriage, there were things that we did that sort of irritated us, now we sort of laugh at them and we enjoy them. We've learned to accommodate. But one thing we agree on, one thing we are like-minded on, and that is our pursuit of Christ. We are like souled.
So a mature friend is reliable. A mature friend is compatible. Here's the third. A good friend, a mature friend is thoughtful. Thoughtful.
In verse 20, he says, "I have no one like-minded who will sincerely care for your state--" verse 21-- "for all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus." Now we're back to that servant thing again and Paul's been harping on that for several verses. And perhaps just when you thought it was over and you could move on. You were thinking, Skip, I remember we had a couple of weeks of telling us that we had to serve one another and love one another and be humble with each other and all that stuff. And I'm just so glad we're done with that. We can move on to real life. Well, evidently to Paul, you're not done. Because he keeps bringing it up and using example after example and application after application.
And so he said let this mind be in you which is also in Christ Jesus. But he said as his premise, let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility or lowliness of mind let each of us esteem others better than himself. That's a wonderful passage. Trouble is, it's hard. That's difficult to actually esteem, prefer others more than ourselves.
Well one who did that was Timothy. "He will sincerely care for your state." In other words, he genuinely cares for your welfare. The word sincerely simply means he's the real deal. There's nothing fake about him. There's nothing phony about him. There's nothing hypocritical. He actually cares. Timothy didn't plaster a fake smile on him, so that he could sell you something or that he'd get a bigger tip. He actually genuinely cared.
I think you can tell if somebody is sincere in their care. I mean animals can. I found this funny little study on a scientific journal where they took dogs and put them in MRI scanners with something to read brain waves. And they noted dogs care about what we say and how we say it. I found it fascinating that they can process word meaning and intonation.
Now they don't have a big vocabulary, but they get the basic rudimentary commands and things that you say. But they listened to the words they're familiar with, but also how you say them. Now this has nothing at all to do with my study, I just thought it was fascinating.
Except for this, I think if animals know and they can tell if we're sincere or not, certainly human beings can. And Paul knew that of Timothy, that he esteems others better than himself. He's not self-centered. He's not thinking what about me. He's thinking what about them.
So a friend of mine signed me up for this thing called 23andMe. Have you heard of that? You know what that is? 23andMe. It was a gift that was given to me and you send a sample of saliva in and they test your DNA. They find out what your background is. What percentage of this ethnic group you are. And I thought, well, that'd be fascinating.
But not only do they do genetic research, they want to find out behavior patterns. So they ask you a series of questions. And they have sent me several emails, could you answer these questions? Thank you, you answer more than a large percentage, would you answer more questions? Well, I got one yesterday that asked me a few questions. I just wanted you to hear the first two.
Number one, they said how narcissistic do you think you are? That was the question. And they gave you different options. I'm not at all narcissistic, which only a narcissist would say. I am very narcissistic, which I don't know who would say that. And then something in the middle. I'm somewhat narcissistic. So I looked at it and thought, who is going to answer that honestly, ever? How narcissistic do you think you are? So I thought most people would probably say somewhat narcissistic. That's safe. That's how I answered it at least.
Second question that they sent me was on a scale of one to five, how much do you like helping other people? And again I thought I wonder how many people are really going to be honest with this? OK.
So now look at verse 21. He goes from saying, I have nobody like-minded who will really care. Now he makes a contrasts in verse 21. "For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus." That is an amazing statement. For everybody seeks their own, not the things that are of Christ.
The Moffatt translation puts it this way. Everybody is selfish. The new Living Translation renders it for all others care only for themselves. Now we're not actually sure who Paul was referring to here.
But a surface reading of this, most of us would think, well, he's probably describing the unbelieving world, the unconverted world. People generally in the world are selfish in their living. I don't believe he's referring to that. I believe, that my strong conviction is, he's referring to Christian people.
You know how I believe that? Because he has just written in Chapter 1, he said that some in Rome, who were Christian people, were preaching through envy and strife and selfish ambition. He noted that. And he said they're making it worse for me while I'm in jail.
You see Paul had been around people. He knew people. And he knew that sometimes people, church people, just want you to think they're church people. They speak Christianese. They got it down pat. God bless you, brother, sister. Praise the Lord. Hallelujah. Thank you, Jesus. I'm reading my Bible. They just say all the right stuff. But they have their own agenda.
And Paul knew from personal experience I got a group of people here in Rome, who are preaching from envy, strife, selfish, ambition, for all seek their own, not the things that are of Jesus. Timothy, however, really cares.
Remember in the Gospel of John, Jesus was gaining a large crowd. And we are told this. "Many believed in His name when they saw the signs that He performed. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men. And He had no need that anybody testify of man." I think Paul knew men, too. But he knew that Timothy was a breath of fresh air.
Some of you may be familiar with the person I'm about to announce. He was a French cleric over 1,000 years ago. His name was Bernard, Bernard of Clairvaux. And he made some very interesting observations about us as human beings. He said there are four stages of Christian maturity. See if you can relate to this.
Stage number one, love of self for self's sake. That's about as basic as you can get. It's all about me. I love myself. How do I look? How do I feel? How do you make me feel? It's love of self for self's sake. That's stage number one.
Stage number two, love of God for self's sake. Stage number three, love of God for God's sake. And stage number 4, love of self for God's sake.
Now without going through all those stages, let me just say that my observation is that many of us Christians are still at stage number two. We love God for our self's sake. We love God because God makes me feel good. And as long as God keeps giving me what I think He ought to be giving me and blessing me like He ought to be blessing me, well, I'm going to love Him. But if He doesn't, that may go away. It's love of God for the sake of myself, not for Him, not for His glory, it's all about me.
Think of it this way. All of us, all of us, live in one of two places. We either live in Philippians 1:21 or Philippians 2:21. Philippians 1:21 reads "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." Philippians 2:21, you just read it, "All seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus." You either live in 1:21 or 2:21.
Think of it this way. You are turning 21. Which 21 are you turning? 1:21 or 2:21? Seeking your own, not Jesus or for me to live is Christ and to die is gain. We all live in one of two camps.
A gal by the name of Ruth Calkin wrote a piece that has stuck with me for years. Let me read it to you. It's a prayer. She says, "You know, Lord, how I serve You with great emotional fervor in the limelight. You know how eagerly I speak for You at a woman's club. You know how I effervesce when I promote a fellowship group. You know my genuine enthusiasm at a Bible study. But how would I react, I wonder if you pointed to a basin of water and asked me to wash the calloused feet of a bent and wrinkled old woman day after day and month after month in a room where nobody saw and nobody knew?"
I was deeply convicted when I first read that. And I still am when I read it now, because only the Lord knows if I'm in 1:21 or 2:21. But I think we could all say I want to be in 2:21. I hope that we're going from level 2 all the way up to 3 and 4.
Well, a mature friend is reliable. A mature friend is compatible. A mature friend is thoughtful. Let me give you a fourth and we'll close out. A mature friend is loyal. I'm going to have you look at verse 22. Speaking of Timothy, he says, "But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father, he served with me in the gospel." His point is this, Timothy was not a novice, he was seasoned. He had maturity. He had mileage, spiritual mileage, under his spiritual belt. He said he had proven character. Now that word proven character, it's just a single word in Greek, [SPEAKING GREEK]. And it means to prove something or make something known as valuable after it has gone through a testing.
And so they would test metals or they would test horses. And once it was tested, then it was proven to be valuable, because it's gone through the test. And today everything's tested. Your car, they just didn't sell you your car and cross their fingers and say, man, and I hope it runs. They took it to a factory. They put a dummy-- not one of us-- a crash dummy in it. And they rammed it up into a wall. And they wanted to make sure the airbags deployed and the electronics work, et cetera. It was tested. Everything from toasters to toilets are tested. And it's the testing that proves the worth or proves the value.
So Paul didn't just add Timothy to his evangelistic team day one after his conversion. He waited a couple of years, until he came back through Lystra and Derbe-- and saw him a second time. And we are told in Acts 16, "Timothy was well spoken of by the brethren." It was that endorsement that caused Paul to say, Tim, I want you to join my team. And so young Tim joined Paul's team and followed him throughout Macedonia and Corinth and then to Jerusalem when Paul brought a special offering of money for the suffering church in Jerusalem.
The point is this. There must be waiting before there is working. There must be a testing period before there is a teaming up with another person, especially in ministry. Because rapid advancement in ministry can cause someone to become proud. This is why Paul said Timothy, he wrote to Timothy 1 and 2 Timothy, he said, when you choose up leaders, make sure they're seasoned. His words, not a novice less being puffed up with pride he falls into the same condemnation as the devil.
You know, I have noticed over the years that whenever somebody famous, some rock star, some singer, some actor makes any overture of belief in Jesus Christ, the church wants to immediately platform them, bring them in. Have him stand up and share his testimony. No. Don't have him do that. Have him get rooted and grounded first and grow. Otherwise, he'll become a tree whose branches go out further than his roots go down and that tree will topple. And when that tree topples, the world is going to look and go, aha, another fake one.
So Paul made sure Timothy was loyal. And that loyalty turned into a long-term reliability. And so he mentions him 24 times, Paul does, in all of his writings. And I love this relationship how it's said "as a son is with his father." Paul thought of Timothy as his son in the faith. And he writes about that here "as a son is with his father."
I'll close with this. I don't know if you know who Henry Luce is-- L-U-C-E. Henry Luce was the founder of Time-Life Incorporated, so that great communication enterprise. Henry Luce probably influenced world opinion more than any single publisher in recent history. In fact, when he was alive, he was called the most influential private citizen in America.
Well, he talks about his early life. He said he was raised the son of a missionary in China. Raised in China, his father had enormous responsibility running a school, running his mission. And he said every evening my dad would take me for a walk. But he said what was interesting is my father spoke to me as though I were an adult. He said I was just a kid walking next to my dad. And my dad talked about the philosophy of education and things that I didn't quite know, but it just elevated me. And I felt like, man, I'm not just a kid, I'm not just his son, I'm his friend. He felt so honored that his father made him a friend.
What an honor to be called a friend of Paul the Apostle. It's an honorable title, just a friend of anyone but a friend of Paul the Apostle.
And do you know who was called a friend of God? Can you think of his name in the Bible? Anybody? If you know it, shout it out.
Abraham was called the friend of God, only one who had that title. What an honor, huh? For God to say, hey, do you know My buddy, Abraham? My friend, My good friend.
And here's the truth. When Jesus Christ becomes your Savior, He brings you into a relationship with His Father, so you become a child of God. But more than that, a friend. Jesus said to His followers, from this day on, I don't call you just my servants you're my friends so I'm looking at friends of God children of God. And if you don't know Jesus Christ, this would be a good day to enter into a relationship with Him.
Let's pray. Father, we just make consideration of what we have read. These simple words of Paul endorsing somebody he's going to send to a group that he loved. Timothy, a friend who was reliable. A friend who was compatible. A friend who was so thoughtful. And a friend who was loyal.
Lord, some of us are in desperate need of good friendships, healthy relationships. And we hear these words and we think, oh that I had those kind of people surrounding me. But if we would turn from that and say, boy, if I lived in 2:21 rather than 1:21, I could be mature to the extent that I would bless other people and my life would become even more fruitful as I remain ever faithful. So we're asking You, Lord, to change us individually, to make us these kind of mature people, children of God, friends of God, friends to one another.
And I just want to pray for anyone if they don't know Christ personally that now would be the opportunity that they would seize upon to put their trust personally, definitely, intentionally in Jesus Christ. As our heads are bowed, I'm going to leave my head up and my eyes open for just a moment because I want to invite you if you've never said yes to Jesus, authentically committed your life to Him. I'm not asking you are you a good person, a nice person, a religious person, have you gone to church all your life? I'm asking do you know Jesus Christ personally?
Have you asked him to be your Savior? Have you invited Him in? Have you turned your life over to Him? If you haven't done that, but you want to do that, you want to know your sins are forgiven and He'll give you a whole new start, a whole new life, I want you to raise your hand up just for a moment, just raise it up high so I can see it. God bless you, ma'am, right there in the middle to my left. Anyone else? Raise that hand up.
Say yes to Him. Surrender to Him and be His friend, His child and his friend. Anybody else? Raise that hand up so I can see it.
And then right where you're at, if you raised your hand, would you just say, Lord Jesus, come into my life right now. I know that I'm a sinner. I ask You to forgive me. I believe that You came from heaven to earth and died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the grave. I turned my life to You. I repent of my sin.
I turn to Jesus to be my Savior and my Lord. Help me to follow You today and every day. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Timothy possessed many qualities of a great friend. Did this message challenge you to consider how many of these qualities are present in your own life? We'd love to hear about it. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/giving. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Albuquerque.