In this sermon we come to one of those sections of the Bible that we might be tempted to skip over. At the end of Chapter 2 in Philippians, Paul takes 12 verses to describe his travel plans along with the travel itineraries of two other individuals: Timothy and Epaphroditus. Why should we care? By the end of this message, you’ll be glad you didn’t skip over this section!
Timothy and Epaphroditus are sent to Philippi by Paul to serve on 3 different levels:
- Emissaries: In the first century world, news traveled by means of couriers sent from place to place with letters in hand. So at the first and most basic level, Timothy and Epaphroditus serve as couriers on the Via Appia and Via Egnata, because they are reliable and trustworthy men who Paul can count on to get the job done.
- Encouragers: These are no emotionally uninvolved postmen, simply conveying unknown letters from stranger to stranger. No, these are brothers in Christ who care dearly for one another and for their respective communities. So, these men were sent not only as letter carriers, but to embody the love and affection that binds Paul and the Philippian believers together in Christian friendship. In essence, these men are representatives of spiritual affection and friendship. That is a model for what the church needs today: embodied encouragement shared through being together in worship, community, and service. We’re better together!
- Exemplaries: Finally, Paul sends Timothy because he there is no other equal who cares for the Philippians like Paul. Timothy exemplifies the genuine concern for the welfare of others, the embodiment of Christlike love and others-centered humility. In essence, Timothy is embodying what Paul is exhorting in the book of Philippians! We too are called to be imitators of Christ. But sometimes that seems like a lofty or intangible goal. Which is why God gives us people like Timothy and Epaphroditus and Paul, to show us what Christlikeness looks like in real, everyday life. We learn by imitation, by patterning ourselves after others and following in their example.
Takeaways: Who am I imitating? Who is imitating me?
The person you will become is directly linked with the heroes you admire and the friendships that you cultivate.
To watch the Living The Message conversation about this sermon, visit https://youtu.be/EL5sGixFSRM.