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Thursday-Lookout

 

For everyone looks out for their 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.

 

Philippians 2:21,22

 

Boy could this be the title that describes life today. Everyone looks out for their own interests. Doesn’t that describe the life of people that surround us? Everyone’s looking to make a buck for themselves. For power and influence for themselves. Their own pleasure and satisfaction. Their own rights.

 

People are focused like a laser only on all the things that point back to themselves. How to move up the ladder of success. What it will take to have more money in their bank accounts. More stocks in their portfolios. Newer, faster cars and trucks. Bigger homes. The latest technology. And what’s the contrast that Paul points to? He doesn’t say look at me. No, he says look at Jesus as the only person in the world who’s really looked at his life as a way to serve others. Why else would he call himself a servant[1]? Why else would he clearly describe himself as coming to serve[2]?

 

The answer comes in the truth that being a servant isn’t being lower than everyone else. It’s the position that Jesus chose to come and to live his life as. He was God for all eternity past and yet, when it came time for him to pay for our sins, he didn’t come as a great, conquering hero. Which brings up the question, how are we doing when it comes to choosing to be servants? A servant to God? A servant to people? A servant to our family? A servant to our church? A servant to our community?

 

When Paul points back to Timothy, his son in the faith, he has more than an opinion. He has more than just good vibes. Paul has proof that Timothy is different. There’s been example after example of how Timothy has again and again lived in humble service towards Paul.

 

And Timothy’s motivation wasn’t some contracted stock option plan. Or the promise of a year-end bonus. It was all based on who Jesus is and his complete forgiveness of sins on the cross. Timothy knows that since Jesus had emptied himself, that he could follow God’s example and not be disappointed.

 

The proof that Paul’s talking about wasn’t some multiple-choice test. It wasn’t an essay question. Or even an oral exam. The proof was the day-in, day-out way that Timothy lived his life. And it was the life that Paul personally watched. There wasn’t a daily written report or email with video footage of Timothy. No. Paul saw it for himself and was convinced down to his toes that Timothy was faithful.

 

But their relationship was deep and wide. There's more to it than boss and employee. Leader and follower. Mentor and learner. Paul wasn’t stuck-up on his own self-importance, and Timothy wasn’t groveling either.

 

Here’s the great Apostle Paul. It’s like he just snapped his fingers and churches popped up all over the place. It’s his writings that make up most of the New Testament after the gospels. It’s his words we think about in our heads. It’s his sermons that ring in our ears. He’s the biggest of the big cheeses in the first-century church.

 

And with all that going for him, he’s still so humble towards Timothy. Paul doesn’t try and grab all the headlines and attention. He doesn’t go for all the glory.

 

How do we know this? Because of one little word: with. He could easily have said that he was a father leading his son. Or that it was a father to a son. He could have put himself in the captain’s chair. In the spotlight.

 

But Paul doesn’t. He goes out of his way to say that it was a “with.” Paul was with Timothy. They were with one another. They were equals. They were peers. Timothy was his fellow servant. How is this possible? How could someone so well educated and experienced like Paul describe himself as with Timothy? Simple. It’s because they both were servants in the work of the gospel. They were both servants of Jesus Christ.

 

They had worked together for a long time. And it wasn’t to build an organization. Or a country? Or a political movement. Or a building. They both worked hard to spread the good news of who Jesus is and his sacrifice for everyone.

 

Paul and Timothy were investing their lives, talents, energies, and all their time into something so much bigger than themselves. They saw the gospel as something that could radically change lives and the entire world. And that was worth giving everything they were. Selling everything they had.

 

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

 

Matthew 13:45,46

 

So, is this how you think about the things of God? Is it worthy of all your time? Effort? Energies? Are you willing to sell everything for it? The answer to these questions gives the proof for how you look at Jesus and his good news.

 

Noodling Questions

 

  • What areas of life are you most on the lookout for? Why?

  • Does serving people sound like you’re on the lookout to protect yourself? Why?

  • Who do you need to partner with to help motivate and energize you to serve?


[1] Luke 22:27

[2] Matthew 20:28

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