Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Oct 1 2013 - Philippians 2:19-3:1 – Where are the Timothies?

Some while ago I heard a sermon on these verses from Philippians. The preacher, who was also pastor of the church, pointed out the qualities of Timothy. This young man lives up to the pattern Paul outlines in the first part of this chapter. He took a genuine interest in the welfare of others rather than being concerned about himself. He was concerned for the glory of Christ and for the work of the gospel. The preacher concluded his sermon with the repeated question, "Where are the Timothies? Where are the Timothies?" He lamented the fact that it is so difficult to find such young people today.

I thought that he had missed a vital point and overlooked a key element in this passage. What had made Timothy the man he was? What had moulded his character? You may answer that it was God who made Timothy the man he was and the Spirit of God who had moulded his character, and you would be right. But we must not overlook the influence of the apostle Paul who writes, "Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel" (Philippians 2:22). Paul had taken Timothy to be a member of his team. Paul had mentored him and trained him. Paul had entrusted him with responsibilities, even thrusting him into areas of ministry which filled Timothy with fear. Paul had encouraged him, prayed for him, and had ensured that, as far as it was within his power, Timothy was received and respected by those to whom he was sent to minister. Timothies are not just found, they are made.

Where are the Timothies? If there is a lack of such young people in the church today, might it not be possible that the blame lies not with them but with us? Have we been seriously engaged in the task of mentoring, training and moulding the lives of the next generation? All too often we can we jealous of our own position and power, and reluctant to encourage others to develop their gifts and to take on areas of responsibility. Where are the Timothies? Let's give ourselves to cultivating them.

And let’s not overlook the qualities we find in Epaphroditus. He had been sent as a messenger from Philippi to Paul, perhaps carrying news from the church and provisions for Paul (see 4:10,18). He had worked for a while alongside Paul and had risked his life in the work of Christ. When he became ill, the church at Philippi became anxious for him and sought news of him. This, in turn, made Epaphroditus anxious to get news back to Philippi to assure them that he is now recovered. So Paul is sending Epaphroditus back with this letter, that he might be restored to his friends at Philippi and that they might rejoice in one another’s company.

This little cameo provides us with a touching picture of the network of relationships and affection that bound Paul and his team to the churches among whom he had ministered. The gospel has the power to create community – a community bound together in the bonds of love.

So we are called not only to develop and channel the gifts of individuals but also to cultivate strong relationships within the body of Christ, relationships of mutual affection and concern. Such relationships make the love of God visible.

Risen Lord Jesus, help us to recognise, value and nurture the gifts you give to your people. Help us to raise up and encourage a new generation of ‘Timothies’ who will give themselves to the work of the gospel. And as you have given yourself for us, help us to give ourselves to the care and encouragement of one another that we may display your love to the world.

Peter Misselbrook