Posted by: Brad Beaman | October 3, 2007

Christian Character, Philippians 2:19-24

This passage of scripture shows us the example of Timothy who stands for Christ. That is the great need in the church, for those who will demonstrate genuine Christian character.

Christian Character

Philippians 2:19-24

Introduction
Often we get useful information from the Gallop polls. One Gallup poll taken has produced statistics that will shock many of us. In some ways the outcome was positive. In some ways the outcome of the poll was very negative. The poll found that never in the history of America had church attendance been so high. That is encouraging that church attendance is so high in America. We look back and we tend to glorify the days past as a time when church attendance was at an all time high. But according to the Gallup poll never in the history of America has the attendance of Christianity been so high as it is now.

But then the second part of the poll revealed the discouraging aspect of this poll. Never in the history of America had church attendance made such little difference. In other words many are attending church, many are coming more than ever before, but the problem is the influence from the Christians is less. We have a real problem in the absence of Christian character today.

The passage of scripture we will study today addresses this problem. In Philippians chapter 2 beginning with verse 19 to verse 24 we have the example of Timothy, the great servant of God. Paul holds forth Timothy as an example of someone who stands for Christ and who is willing to make an impact. It is important today that we hold up Timothy as an example of one who stands with Christian Character. That is what we need in the church today.

Read Philippians 2:19-24
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 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. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.

Here is Timothy, a man who can be trusted. Here is Timothy, a man who shows genuine concern to those around him. Here is Timothy, a man who is dedicated in his service to Jesus Christ. That is the call for the Christian. That is the great need in the church, for those who will demonstrate genuine Christian character.

Who around us stands as our example today for Christian character? You may have those you look to as an example of Christian character. Paul says we have a biblical example of Christian character in Timothy. Earlier Paul had talked about the greatest example of all, that of Jesus. Paul told us that Jesus being God almighty throned in majesty, humbled himself to the point of death on a cross. Some people might say that is too much. I could never live up to the example of Jesus Christ. So Paul brings the example closer to home. Here is Timothy, someone who struggles with the same weaknesses we have. Timothy was an ordinary man just willing to submit himself to Christ and be used. This makes him a great biblical example of Christian character.

Paul in this passage of Scripture is telling us of his travel plans. You see Paul is at this time in prison. He is writing this letter to the Philippians from prison and is telling them what he plans to do because they are very worried. Paul was the one who started the church in Philippi. So he is telling them in this letter that Apphroditus will be bringing back the letter to them. In the church of Philippi there is a great problem of disunity and strife. Paul wants to know if this letter is going to make a difference in impacting them. So he says that later he is going to send Timothy to them. He has no one else like Timothy. A man of great character to go to them and tell them what the outcome of Paul’s trial is.

Paul is waiting to find out, will he be martyred or set free to continue to preach the gospel? He has found in Timothy one who is worthy to take on a great task. Timothy will go back to Philippi and give them the news of what has happened to Paul. Timothy will then take back the news to Paul if they are responding to Paul’s letter, or is there still strife and discord in the church.

So Paul is looking around for one who will stand up to this task and only Timothy is found worthy. He is the great example of Christian character. Timothy met Paul on Paul’s missionary journey and Timothy accompanied Paul. When Paul was in prison Timothy was with him there in Philippi. Here Paul is writing from prison and Timothy is again standing by. It says something right there about his Christian character. He is willing to stand with those who are in trouble. The first thing we see as far as the Christian Character of Timothy is that Timothy is a man to be trusted. Paul had a great trust in Timothy. All through his imprisonment it was Timothy that he trusted.

I) Christian Character means you can be trusted. Vs 21

Paul sends Timothy to Philippi for those two reasons. First of all Paul wants Timothy to report the outcome of his trial to the church. Secondly Paul wants Timothy to find out the news about the Philippian church problems and carry back a report. Paul needs someone he can rely on for this so he sends Timothy as his personal representative. Paul trusts Timothy as his right hand man.

We read in verse 21: For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

So Paul is saying in the midst of all the people (even in his day) who are more interested in their own interests than the service of the gospel, there is one man who is an example. Paul had mentioned in his letter that the preachers around his area of Rome were preaching out of selfish motivation. They were preaching from wrong motives. Paul may have asked others if they would go on this journey. And they may have refused to go but Timothy is the one who would stand up and be counted. It is a sad commentary for Christians in Paul’s day that nobody was worthy for this journey but this one man, Timothy.

What about in our own day? Do we have those that stand up with Christian character? We hear that today the church attendance is going great, but true Christian character is a rare commodity. How wonderful it is when someone will really stand up with Christian character in this day. Paul made a comment about his day that could also be made today. Many people are more concerned about their own self-interests than they are about the ministry of Jesus Christ.

We need men and women who will be an example like Timothy, who can be trusted. Even when Jesus ministered to the multitudes, but rarely did the multitudes follow him. It was just a small band of disciples. All through out the Old Testament there is the theme of the holy remnant. It seems like throughout the history of the church there has been just a small band who really stand up. There have always been lots and lots of people who are professed followers, but those who truly stand committed are few indeed. There is the desperate need in our generation for people who will say, “I do not care what the others do or say I am going to stand up and live a life with Christian character.” It is rare to find a man like Timothy who is anxious to promote the welfare of others instead of his own interests.

One Christian leader who knew how rare Christian character is said, “Rather than give me one hundred people who have gained a world vision, give me instead five people who will keep that vision.” You see the kind of challenge he is giving? He understands the situation as was revealed in the Gallop poll. There may be many people attending church. Church attendance may be higher in America than ever before, but it is rare to see people really standing with Christian commitment.

Last Wednesday I spoke to a group of college students at the University. The Student director asked me to speak to them about Christian commitment. He knew the need of our day is for Christians who will stand for Christ. It is too easy to just drift with the tide.

They are amongst students who are not concerned about moral values. They are in an environment that calls for Christian character. It is needed among young people today, but it is needed among every generation. All of us face temptations with academics or tax forms or in business. We face the challenges to cut the corners and cheat. But Christ calls us to honor him in every situation.

He calls us to a live of Christian character. And that is the example we see in Timothy. We need people who really will make a difference in our society. Paul said, “I have no one else like him.”
Timothy could have excused himself. He could have said, “I am not the one to stand, not me! I have got my health problems with my bad stomach.” Paul had written to Timothy to take a little wine for his frequent stomach illness. Timothy was one who did not have a lot of physical strength. He had his physical problems. There are other scriptures that seem to indicate that Timothy had a reserved and timid personality. Timothy was willing to be the one. He was willing to be the trusted servant.
He had a Jesus honoring Christian character, he was trusted and he exhibited genuine concern for others.

II) Christian Character means genuine concern for others. Vs 20

Verse 20 I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.

Timothy was genuinely interested in the affairs of others. Not in a meddling sense, but in a sense that he was really concerned about the welfare of others. Christian character means that we become interested about others with a genuine concern.

Timothy’s concern for them did not develop over night. He knew the Philippians and loved them. He poured himself out for them and he developed this compassion of genuine Christian concern. We know that Timothy had a great spiritual heritage. His mother and his grandmother were faithful in teaching him the scripture. He had the apostle Paul as his mentor. So we learn that genuine Christian character does not develop instantly.

Illustration of Genuine Concern
Those of us who desire to grow in our need to find and learn from someone who we see demonstrates Christian character. If you know someone like that then do what you can to be around him or her. I found someone like that when I attended seminary. I met with a group at 7:00 AM every Tuesday. I committed myself to get to that prayer meeting every week. I went not only because it was a time of prayer. I could have stayed in my own room and prayed in the mornings. It was because I wanted to be around people who really exhibited Christian character.

The man who led that prayer meeting was Dr. Gray, a retired professor of Missions and he held what is called the “Chair of Fire.” He was respected for being deeply spiritual and really intimate with Jesus Christ. I loved to pray with him because it was more than just taking our prayers to God, but it was also seeing a man demonstrate Christian character.

When one of the students came to the group asking for prayer and needed help, I saw Dr. Gray pull out his checkbook and write a check so that seminary student could travel to another city to receive the chemotherapy he needed when he did not have enough money to get to that city. It was that ability to demonstrate Christian character of genuine concern I observed in Dr. Gray.

If you know someone who demonstrates such a level of Christian character then do what you can to be around them. Find out about them and spend time with them because of the high level of Christian character displayed. Doing this is not looking to man, we still look to Christ, but Paul held Timothy up as an example. Often times we make an excuse. I don’t really need to live my life with a high level of Christian character. People aren’t supposed to be looking to me, we say, they are suppose to look to Christ. We reason and decide it does not matter how we live. That is a weak excuse because it does matter how we live.

Ultimately when men fail we still remember that it is Jesus Christ that is perfect not those who are our models. You need to remember that how you live your life is going to have a great impact on the ones you love most. If you are living your life with half commitment and poor Christian character then the people you love most are going to pick up on that and begin to model that.

When you do not truly live with commitment to Christ you not only are effecting yourself but you are hurting those you love most by providing them a model of half-hearted commitment to Christ. That is why it is important to live with integrity. That is why Paul held up Timothy. It is important that we truly have a compassion for others. Timothy is the one who would show genuine concern and meet the needs and interests of the Philippians. There was no one like him with that kind of concern.

It is no wonder that with the genuine concern that Timothy showed that two of Paul’s pastoral epistles were for Timothy because of his genuine concern for others. Paul is giving Timothy advise in these epistles because he knows he will use this advise in his ministry of compassion. If you do not have genuine concern for others you do not have real Christian character. Timothy gives us the model of genuine concern for others. Timothy could be trusted. Timothy had genuine concern for others and timothy was dedicated in his service.

III) Christian Character means dedicated service. Vs 22

22 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.

Timothy sought the things of Jesus Christ rather than his own interest. He helped Paul, he helped the interests of the Philippians and ultimately that was because of his deep commitment to Jesus Christ. When we serve others it should stem ultimately because of our commitment to Christ. Not only should our service be to meet the needs, but also one of the things Christ calls us to is service. When we meet the needs of others we are serving Jesus Christ. That is what we need to be about, having committed dedicated service for Jesus Christ.

Timothy served Paul faithfully as a son would serve his father. Lovingly he was faithful to Paul. Not because he looked up to Paul as some kind of lord. Timothy looked to Jesus Christ, but serving Paul was part of his service to Christ. Timothy had a significant role through out Paul’s ministry. Later when Paul knew of his appending death it was Timothy that he would call. It was Timothy who showed dedicated service.

We need to commit ourselves to the service of Christ. There are two things people wrongly think regarding dedicated service. The first thing think is that thy are not worthy for service and they say, “I am not worthy enough for Christ’s service.” If you know whom God has called into his service through out history you know that is the same thing repeatedly said. You don’t have to be talented you don’t have to have high intellect you just have to be available to be used by God. You don’t have to be strong physically. Timothy was weak physically. Timothy had his physical problems, but he was available to God. The key to service is availability.

The other thing that people wrongly think is that it all happens instantly. They think all of a sudden they will exhibit Christian character. We need to remember that was not the case for Timothy. He spent years with the apostle Paul. He had the longstanding tutoring of his mother and grandmother. Timothy was willing to exercise the discipline necessary to bring about Christian character. I heard of a weight loss program where all you do is play a taped message about losing weight while you sleep. Simply playing a tape is not going to bring about weight loss. We are in a society that wants everything instantly. Christian character is not going to come instantly. It needs to be developed and is going to take commitment.

Conclusion

Timothy is a great example to us who seem to be playing second fiddle in Christian service. The key to a great orchestra is not the lead instrument of the first chair. The key is in the second chair. What makes the difference is the musician that is behind the scene. If the orchestra has a committed second chair the whole orchestra is dedicated. Part of your Christian commitment is being able to serve behind the scenes. Some of us our called to be that second chair in the Christian life. Look at Timothy with all his character. He was willing to serve behind Paul. He wasn’t interested in the credit. He was interested in serving Christ.

Are you willing to make the commitment needed to have Christian character? It will mean a submission to Jesus Christ. It will mean you surrender your will to the will of Christ. The first step is to put your faith in Christ. Then resolve in your heart that you will stand for Christ. In this day of great church attendance in America that makes such little difference, resolve in your heart that you will be the one to stand with impeccable Christian character. Follow the example of Timothy and decide to be one of the few who will really stand for Christ.

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