Rebecca Van Noord
By default, we flag our own needs as high priority. And we often measure our church community by how well it’s serving our needs. Caught up in our own spiritual growth, we tend to forget that we’re meant to attend to the physical and spiritual needs of others. Paul upholds Timothy and Epaphroditus to the Philippians as examples of what this type of service should look like.
Paul was intent on sending Timothy to the Philippian church because of his discernment and his servant-like heart. In fact Timothy was the only one suited for the task. Others wouldn’t “sincerely be concerned about [the Philippians’] circumstances. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (Phil 2:20–21). Likewise, Paul describes Epaphroditus as a man who suffered to the point of death in order to assist him in his ministry (Phil 2:30).
Both of these men epitomized the natural result of Paul’s commands earlier in his letter: “Do nothing according to selfish ambition or according to empty conceit, but in humility considering one another better than yourselves, each of you not looking out for your own interests, but also each of you for the interests of others” (Phil 2:3–4).
“Considering another individual better” didn’t mean the Philippians had to foster an exaggerated opinion of others—as if they deserved honor. Rather, Paul was instructing them to consider others’ needs ahead of their own. The church in Philippi had this example in Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus. But the original example is found in the person of Christ, who “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8).
Christ’s sacrificial love was first shown undeservedly to us, and His example of humility, obedience, and service is a reminder that we should be looking for ways to serve those around us.
How can you reach out to someone who needs guidance, love or encouragement?
This article was originally posted in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan .