In Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, we see his genuine care and concern toward these young believers in Christ. There was evidently a strong bond that still existed.
Notice how Paul took the time in his letter to let them know of his health and well-being, plus give an update about his pending trial in Rome. He was hoping that the trial would take place soon and that the news would be good. However, Paul was placing the entire matter into God’s hands. The Lord knew what was best for him and for the congregation in Philippi.
“I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his 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. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.” (Philippians 2:19-24)
Paul had decided to send Timothy, whom the church was already familiar with, to Philippi for he “had no else like him”. Paul seemed to have considered others, but they were probably spiritually immature or unqualified. He comments sadly, “For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”
There seemed to be a lack of total commitment to Christ and his cause even among some of the apostle’s coworkers in Rome. Some were unwilling to make real, personal sacrifices for Christ and his kingdom. Paul was obviously disappointed in them. They wanted to be known as servants of Christ, but they refused to put Christ’s work before their own interests.
A real commitment to Christ means a willingness to place the welfare of God’s kingdom before our own personal pleasures, dreams and desires.
The apostle Peter wrote, “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (1 Peter 4:19) We commit ourselves to the Lord despite difficult circumstances, outside pressures, or anything else that may be deemed impossible. We “set before” (commit to) the Lord our lives as one who commits someone or something valuable for safekeeping.
For instance, when a parent commits a child to another adult to care for, there must be a high degree of trust. If I were to commit a valuable jewel or an important document into your hands, I must be able to trust you. The same Greek word is used when Jesus says, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46). Paul and Barnabas committed disciples unto the Lord for safekeeping (Acts 14:23). We obey the Lord and His gentle leading and commit our lives, our dreams, and our plans into His hands.
Even though Timothy was a young man, he was spiritually mature. He had “proven” his faithfulness and reliability. The Greek word used here means to put someone to the test for the purpose of obtaining approval. Paul uses this same word in Romans 5:3b-4 when he writes, “…we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Timothy has suffered for the gospel and has not only “proved” himself by his character, but has also been strengthened in his character as a result of those experiences. He shared in Paul’s total commitment to Jesus and the preaching of the gospel.
When we band together with other brothers and sisters in Christ, there a common bond forged by the Holy Spirit that simply strengthens our own faith and commitment. This was the same type of relationship between Paul and Timothy. In fact, Paul compares their relationship as a father working with his son. Committed Christians have a way of finding each other.
An amazing adventure always awaits those who band together with like-minded individuals.
We finally notice in this section that Paul expresses confidence that he will be released soon. Tradition tells us that Paul was released after writing this letter and served several more years in the ministry. Paul was an ambitious and goal-oriented person. This has always been his personality. In other letters, we see him sharing his dreams and goals to visit churches, even the prospect of going to Spain.
Paul also expresses supreme confidence in the Lord. If it was the Lord’s will for him to continue his work, he had total confidence that it will be accomplished through him. I believe this is why the Lord created us to be goal-oriented. Dreams, visions and purpose are what drives us to accomplish things in life. However, we can be easily side-tracked by strictly adhering to our own agenda without seeking the Lord’s will.
We see Paul was purpose-driven, but he was also flexible. He recognized that God may have other plans for his life and he would rejoice in whatever plan or circumstance that is placed before him.
Let us follow Paul’s example and be totally committed to God — to His ways, His purpose and His plans for our lives. By doing so, an amazing adventure awaits that far exceeds any other dream or desire.