Wednesday, 18 January 2017
But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. Philippians 2:22
Paul now issues a hearty commendation, and a heartfelt note of approval, upon his son in the faith. Still speaking of Timothy, he says, “But you know his proven character.” Those at Philippi were already aware of him and his faithfulness to the gospel message. The verse proves that Timothy did, in fact, travel with Paul to Philippi. While there, they saw his conduct, both towards the gospel itself, and towards Paul. Thus Paul says, “…that as a son with his father.”
This is the close relationship that he had with Timothy, one which permeates his writings. As noted above, he considered him a “true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). The word he uses is an endearing one, teknon. It emphasizes a childlike (but not childish) approach towards his father, and especially towards his heavenly Father. For this reason, Paul then makes an apparent break in the sentence by saying, “he served with me in the gospel.”
First he equates him “as a son with his father.” Then he diminishes his own position and says that “he served with me.” The words for serve, douleuó, is a verb which indicates serving as a slave where all personal rights and possessions belong to the owner. Together, even in a father-son relationship, they were slaves as they worked for the gospel.
Paul’s words are truly of the heart, both for Timothy and with Timothy as they served under their true Master from heaven.
Life application: We can have a person we mentor who is wholly devoted to us, following our lead and carrying out our every direction, but that may not be glorifying of God. Unless the one we mentor is also serving the Lord with us, we have our priorities out of whack. We are not to be served, but to serve. Let us be careful to not assume that someone we are leading is serving us while we serve Christ. Rather, let us ensure that all are serving only the Lord.
Lord God, help each of us to direct those around us to You. This is especially so with those we may be tutoring or guiding along life’s path. We may be a spiritual parent to them, but that doesn’t mean they are to serve us so that we can serve You. Instead, we should make sure they serve along with us under You. In the end, we are Yours. Help us to be obedient to You in all ways, leading others to You alone. Amen.