Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Rarest Attribute

I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 2:19-21

What a surprising statement! Among all of Paul's associates at the time, Timothy alone seeks the interests of Christ?! In the present context this means showing genuine care for the welfare of the Philippian church. Another rendering of verse 20 could read that, "For I have no one like him, who is willing to be genuinely troubled with cares over your welfare." Timothy alone was willing to be troubled for this church. Everyone else was too busy seeking after their own interests to seek after the interest of the Lord. On second thought, maybe this isn't so surprising after all. Isn't this true of nearly everyone we know as well. 

How many people do you know who truly seek the interests of Christ and not their own? Not many I'd guess. You see, Paul presents it as though a person can't pursue their own interests and Christs. You see our natural interests oppose Christ's. None of naturally seek after being troubled with cares for other people. None of us naturally seek after suffer for the sake of the gospel. No! Our interests almost always run counter to the interests of Christ as He advances His kingdom on earth. 

What about you? Are you seeking after your own interests or Christs? What are your future plans? Do they lend themselves more to building your dreams, your legacy, your nest egg, or are they directed at building the kingdom of God? I suspect many believers would struggle to think of a single goal they are seeking after or a single plan they are working towards that truly advances God's interests. Instead we all make plans to advance our own kingdoms: plans to get a bigger house for our family, plans to get that next promotion or raise, plans to get in better shape. Notice none of these plans are wrong in themselves. But they are all focused on this world, not on the next. They are focused on making our lives and the lives of our families more comfortable. As long as we are focused on seeking after our own interests we will never be willing to place others ahead of ourselves, to go out of our way to bear their burdens, or to make sacrifices for the cause of Christ. 

Whose interests are you really seeking after, your own or Gods?

Let me drive this home a little more by clarifying what it looks like to seek after God's interests at the expense of your own. In 2:3 Paul introduces himself and Timothy as God's slaves or bond-servants. Not many of us think of ourselves this way on a regular basis. But this is exactly what we are. Paul puts it a little differently in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. He says, "You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."

Just eight verses before today's passage, in Philippians 2:4-11, Jesus is held up as the ultimate example of this type of living. Though He was equal to the Father in His divine nature, He willingly submitted Himself to seek God's interests, to be troubled with the cares of others and to suffer to advance the kingdom above Himself. Jesus came not to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:28). He became obedient to seeking after God's interests even to the point of dying on the cross. 

How far are you willing to go? How much are you willing to suffer? Will you spend your life advancing God's kingdom or will you spend it on your own ends? The truth is that your life is not your own anyway. You were purchased with a price. The world is full of people who are focused on their own needs, who are living for themselves. You want to distinguish yourself before the Lord? Live for Jesus! 

Father, work in our hearts so that one day we may honestly say with the Apostle Paul, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). May our lives be Christ and nothing else. 

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