Day 19: Proven worth
A LoveSingapore 40.Day prayer and fast devotional, following 2022's theme of To Live Is Christ: A Journey Through the Book of Philippians.
LoveSingapore // July 19, 2022, 12:01 am
Bible reading for 40.DAY 2022 | Philippians 2:19–24
Paul is anxious about the situation in Philippi (Philippians 2:28). That’s why he sends Epaphroditus with this letter. Paul himself plans to go as soon as possible. In the meantime, he hopes to send Timothy, he says, so that I may be cheered by news of you (Philippians 2:19).
That’s one letter and three “apostolic” visits back-to-back! This is extraordinary. What’s wrong with the Philippian Church?
Much more than Paul lets on. Saying too much would make things awkward for Epaphroditus, who most likely informed Paul about the situation there. They have enough internal strife as it is.
So Paul treads softly and plans his next move.
Timothy is the second of four godly examples profiled in Philippians. He was with Paul and Silas when they planted the church in Philippi. They know his character. And so should we.
Timothy is a man of “proven worth”, which means tried and true, tested as gold, and approved by God.
Timothy learned the Word of God from infancy. “You have known the Holy Scriptures from the womb,” wrote Paul (2 Timothy 3:15). Taken literally, this would suggest that Timothy’s Jewish mother read the Bible to him during pregnancy. Not a bad idea for expectant mothers.
Timothy kept the faith of his mother and grandmother, even though his father was a Gentile (2 Timothy 1:5, Acts 16:1). Timothy was also a faithful disciple and well-spoken of in his home church. No wonder Paul recruited him as a missionary (Acts 16:1-5).
Timothy served Paul in the Gospel as a son with a father. His name appears 26 times in 12 books of the New Testament. And he is a co-sender with Paul of six New Testament letters, including Philippians.
Timothy is young. But he’s no upstart or lone ranger. He’s a man of “proven worth”, which means tried and true, tested as gold, and approved by God. Paul literally says of him: “I have no one of like-soul.”
Timothy is a sterling example of the Christlike character and behaviour that Paul urges throughout this letter. He is the exact opposite of those who “seek their own interests and not those of Christ”.
Paul had previously sent him on several apostolic assignments. Now he can trust him to handle the touchy situation in Philippi – without putting on airs or seeking honours. There is hope for the Philippians.
And us? Where have all the Timothys gone?
1 Disciples of proven worth are made, not born. What does it take to produce such disciples in our local churches from generation to generation?
Effective discipleship is relational and intentional. It begins with faith at home.
- Think Family and Home. Confess: Effective discipleship is relational and intentional. It begins with faith at home. The hearing of the Word (Romans 10:17). The moulding and grounding in the Word (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Pray that parents will take ownership of this biblical call and steward it well. That our young, like Timothy, will grow up from infancy with the Word as their plumbline, their compass, their wisdom, their reference point, and their blueprint for right living.
- Think Generations. Unless each generation experiences the faith in a personal way as Timothy did, it will degenerate into a familiar thing they inherit, a convenient thing they live with for pragmatic reasons like marrying and burying, and a meaningless thing they can ignore or abandon. On our watch, may we do our best to avert the perennial woe of Western Christianity: The devolution from first generation fervency, to second generation complacency, to third generation apathy, to fourth generation apostasy. Pray!
- Think local church. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). There’s no way to accurately handle the Word without making our best efforts to study and master the Word as Timothy did. Pray for a revival of hunger for the Word and a restoration of life-on-life discipleship and nurture in the Word. Pray especially for young pastors and emerging leaders.
2 Leaders of kindred spirit are a rare breed. “Being of kindred spirit in no way suggests they had the same temperament or even that they always agreed. What it does mean, however, is that being alongside each other, neither had to work hard at the relationship; things flowed smoothly between them … In today’s slang, they hit it off” (Charles Swindoll). Ask God to surround our Senior Pastors with Timothys. Leaders of proven worth and kindred spirit of whom they can confidently say:
- My Timothy more than represents me. His being there is as good as my being there.
- My Timothy knows me. My ways, my words, my walk, my works. He perceives my heart. He intuitively knows what I want done in every ministry situation.
- My Timothy shares my heartbeat, my passion. My cause is his cause. My burden is his burden. He and I are of one heart and one mind. Like Father, like son. “I have no one of like-soul” (Philippians 2:20).
3 Young pastors of proven worth are a tremendous asset. Many churches today are facing challenges in leadership renewal. Some foresee a looming crisis: a shortage of pastors. Pray that succession will not become mechanical or rushed just to fill the gaps. May our Pauls devote time to mentor and journey with their Timothys in deeply relational ways.
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