Good morning my friends. Have you thought much about what epitaph you would want written on your tomb stone? Pleasant thought for a Monday morning, right? I know, it's just that I got to thinking about it the other day when someone asked me to describe them in one word. It is a challenge to describe someone in one word because we are more complicated than one word. Even one sentence is impossible but at least a sentence allows a description of one thought about a person. Obviously it would be the most dominate character of that person.
We often see ourselves differently than how other people see us. For example, you may see yourself as thoughtful whereas your friends may see you as obsessive. An example for me is when I thought of myself as a "laid back", "come what may" sort of guy but other people were describing me as "high strung" and a workaholic. Keep in mind that just because people have these perceptions does not make it true, but that can also be said about the perceptions we have of ourselves. The only one who truly know us is our Father and we don't always want to hear what he has to say.
These are the thoughts I was having as I read today's passage in Philippians 2 and that is why this one part stood out for me:
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.
Imagine that as an epitaph: He looked not to his own interests but to those of Jesus Christ. This is how Paul was describing his friend Timothy, the only one in whom he could put his confidence. He trusted Timothy, not because Timothy was dedicated to Paul and was faithful to their friendship but instead because Timothy put the interest of Jesus above everything else. That one statement carries with it a lot of other things. It meant that Timothy walked like Jesus. He loved selflessly and was generous to everyone. He was kind and did not discriminate in his love. It meant he had a passion for people and sought out the lost. These things had to be true along with many other things to gain a reputation of putting the interests of Jesus above his own. Imagine the confidence people would be able to put in Timothy and the service he was able to perform in the Kingdom. The sad part is when Paul indicates he had no one else like him.
This one phrase should describe all of us who are followers of Jesus Christ. We should be learning and submitting ourselves to the teaching of Jesus, asking the Spirit to put his words into action in our life. We should be desiring to be just like Jesus, learning what his interests are so we can pursue those over our own selfish interests. Here is the thing, do we even know the interests of Jesus? We can get caught up in a lot of things in the Church such as worship. Music has become a very large part of what we do. Also with the gifts of the Spirit. We can spend a great deal of time trying to "fan into flame" the gifts we have received. There is even the Word. People can spend a life time studying the Word, obsessed with trying to understand all the nuances of God. Yet, we can still lack the knowledge of what Jesus has instructed us to do, what are his interests.
There should be no greater thrill in our life than for someone to say of us, "They have Jesus' interests at heart". People should be able to trust our character because they know we would never go against God's love for us. They should know that we would never inflict any kind of pain on anyone because our dedication to Jesus, our love for him, would never permit us to harm anyone. Pastors can approach us to help in the work because they are confident that Jesus matters more to us than our favorite tv show, our twitter world and even our FaceBook. The Church should be filled with Timothy-types because, according to yesterday's worship songs, Jesus means more to us than the air we breathe. The Church needs us to get beyond our own interests and so does the world of lost souls.
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.