Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Selfless Service

Part 7 of To Live Is Christ, a series through Philippians

You can listen to this sermon here.



They all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel (Phil. 2:21-22) 

[Epaphroditus] nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me (Phil. 2:30). 


Christian Service 

[This sermon was preached on Nov. 10, the day before Remembrance Day.]

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day, a day to honor our military veterans—especially those who lost their lives in battle. As Canadians, we have great respect and admiration for those who have served our country so well.

In Philippians 2:19-30, we read about two men, Timothy and Epaphroditus, who were faithful Christian servants. Paul describes Epaphroditus as his “fellow soldier” (v. 25) who risked his life to minister to Paul (v. 30). Paul also says that we should “honor such men” (v. 29).

Not every Canadian is expected to serve in the Armed Forces. But every Christian is expected to be serving Christ and his church. We are not only to respect and admire men like Timothy and Epaphroditus; we are also called to follow their example.

Christians are to live lives of selfless service.


Is It Possible to Have the Mindset of Christ?

The church at Philippi (like every other church) struggled to maintain unity. So in his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul repeatedly stresses the importance of behaving in ways that promote Christian unity (1:27; 2:3-4; 4:2). We are not to be like the Israelites in the wilderness who constantly grumbled (2:14-15). Instead, we are to be like Christ who, in humility and love, gave his life for us (2:5-8).

The example of Christ shows us that we should live lives of selfless service. Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45). But is the goal to have the mindset of Christ a realistic goal?

The examples of Christians like Timothy and Epaphroditus show us that we can live lives of selfless service. 


Two Selfless Servants

Timothy and Epaphroditus were two men who had the mindset of Christ. Timothy was Paul’s protégé (Acts 16:1-3) and was like a son to Paul (v. 22). Epaphroditus was a member of the church at Philippi who had been sent by the Philippians to give Paul a gift (4:18).

1. Timothy and Epaphroditus were known as servants. 

Timothy had “served with [Paul] in the gospel” (v. 22). Epaphroditus is described by Paul as “my…fellow worker” and “your…minister to my need” (v. 25).

2. Timothy was genuinely concerned about others.

Timothy was “genuinely concerned for [the Philippians’] welfare” (v. 20). He was not like others who sought “their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (v. 21; cf. 2:4).

3. Epaphroditus was willing to make sacrifices. 

Epaphroditus “nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me” (v. 30). He, like Timothy, was also concerned about others because he was “distressed,” not because of his illness, but because “[the Philippians] heard he was ill” (v. 26).


How Can You Serve? 

Our service should not be confined to service within the church, but it should start there. “As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). Do you have no opportunity to do good for your fellow Christians? I don't think so.

Think now about how you can serve. Is there any area of service that you have been sensing that God is leading you into?

The example of Christ shows us that we should live lives of selfless service. The examples of Timothy and Epaphroditus show us that we can live lives of selfless service.

You might have a young family and feel you’re too busy. You might be a senior and think your time for service is over. You might feel you don’t have the qualifications or the talent to do anything. But all of us can serve. And all of us should serve.

Are you willing, like Timothy and Epaphroditus, to be a selfless servant?