“Don’t worry, be happy!” Anytime I hear these words, I start singing them. Why? Because everyone older than 15 hears it in Bobby McFerrin’s voice with the sweet reggae tone behind it. It makes you smile. Worry does just the opposite. It makes you sad, depressed, and sometimes angry. One of the Christian cliché’s is “worry less, pray more,” and I firmly believe in the power of prayer. But is there more to kicking worry to the curb? In today’s verse, Paul took action. He was worried about his friends, so he sent someone to them to cheer them up, and this, in turn, cheered Paul up! When we are worried about something, we need to not only pray but act! Reach out to who it is that is worrying you. Seek counsel from wise people if a situation has your stomach in knots. Pray and act!
Philippians 2:28: “So I am all the more anxious to send him back to you, for I know you will be glad to see him, and then I will not be so worried about you.”
I’ve been involved in several serious car accidents but haven’t approached death’s door. I’ve been hunting and had shots fired in my direction, but nothing too close. Talk to almost anyone who has almost died, and they will inevitably talk about how lucky they are to be alive. I don’t believe in luck. I’m not talking about the “I make my own luck” kind of luck-disbelief, but the “I believe in a sovereign God” kind. I don’t know why God chooses to show mercy to some while letting others pass on to eternity. I do know that if you are fortunate enough to be alive, you have experienced God’s mercy and compassion, even if you don’t believe in Him. So, why are you still living? What is your purpose?
Philippians 2:27: “And he certainly was ill; in fact, he almost died. But God had mercy on him—and also on me, so that I would not have one sorrow after another.”
In the time of instant communication, we can find out how someone is doing in short order. That wasn’t always the case. If you can imagine a world without email or even the phone, we used to have these things called letters. You would use a pen or pencil and write on a piece of paper. You could write whatever you want because if you made a mistake, you could erase it or start over. There were no accidental “sends” or “enters.” Writing by hand allowed the mind to turn words and sentences over to find the perfect phrasing. It also meant that people would have to wait for days, weeks, or even months to hear back. In the interim, you spent time thinking about that person, their welfare, and wondering if they received your letter. The stress! I often wonder if we spend less time thinking and praying for others because we have instant access to them. I think it is time to bring back letter writing. Who’s with me!?!
Philippians 2:26: “I am sending him because he has been longing to see you, and he was very distressed that you heard he was ill.”
It is hard to describe the camaraderie that exists between members of the military. When you train, deploy, and fight together, a special bond is formed. Trust and friendship are deep among fellow warriors. As followers of Christ, we are in a war. Good vs. evil, light vs. dark, God vs. satan. All of these battles are raging around us. Some in the earthly realm, most in the spiritual realm. We need to realize and understand that not only are we brothers and sisters in Christ or co-laborers. But we are fellow soldiers. Fight the good fight. Lean on others. Above all, put on the full armor of God. We know we are on the winning team, but let’s not get lazy.
Philippians 2:25: “Meanwhile, I thought I should send Epaphroditus back to you. He is a true brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier. And he was your messenger to help me in my need.”
Whenever someone has doubts about anything, we often glibly say, “you just have to have faith.” But faith in what? The object of our faith is more important than faith itself. We live in a world that preaches faith in faith is good enough. But it’s not. Over and over again, the Bible encourages us to place our faith in Christ and Christ alone. There are no human beings in which we should place complete confidence in. Not our spouse, not our pastors, not our politicians, not our parents. Christ alone. When we put our faith in Christ, then we can trust the outcome of every situation, even if it doesn’t go the way we initially want. Faith in Christ allows us to have a divine perspective. In whom (or what) do you place your confidence?
Philippians 2:24: “And I have confidence from the Lord that I myself will come to see you soon.”
Hope. To expect or wish for something. Paul is continuously sharing his hopes with others. In today’s verse, he is hoping to send an associate to a church for encouragement. Let me share some of my hopes with you. I hope we can learn civil discourse again. I hope we start to value life again. I hope people can truly understand and show grace. I hope my daughters grow up in a better America and world than what I see now. I hope my wife and I live to see 70 years of wedded bliss. I hope I get to go fishing with my dad again. I hope I get to see a Husker football game again. I hope the church is ready when Christ returns. I hope I get to walk on the beach with my mom again. I hope my life and eventual death glorify Jesus. I hope Freedom Church continues to be salt and light in a dark world. I hope many in my sphere of influence come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. I hope…
Philippians 2:23: “I hope to send him to you just as soon as I find out what is going to happen to me here.”
If you’ve spent any time with me at all, you know I grew up fishing with my dad a lot. Almost every weekend was either spent in the back of a ten-foot Jon Boat or on the soccer field. I remember the first time I fished a bass tournament with my dad. Instead of introducing me as his son, he said I was his fishing partner. I had graduated from a tag-along to a team member. It made me smile. I don’t know how well we did (probably bad because I grew tired of fishing for bass and wanted to go for bluegill-which you don’t win a bass tournament doing that), but I do remember the feeling I had when I got the chance to compete with my dad. Paul saw Timothy as his spiritual son and partner in preaching. Timothy had proven faithful. As we survey our relationships, who are we a Paul to? Who do we encourage, lead, and mentor? Who are we a Timothy to? Who are we learning from, being challenged by, and serving?
Philippians 2:22: “But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News.”
When I graduated high school (20 years ago!), a dear lady from church, Dot, gave me a plaque with C.T. Studd’s quote, “Only one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” I remember it because I still have it. Seventeen moves later, and it is one of the only things I have left from that time. It serves as a reminder that the only things I do that last for eternity are what is done for Christ. Anything I do for myself, apart from Christ, will not last. I am not to seek my interests before that of Christ. I am not to care for my glory, only that of Christ. So easy to say, so hard to do.
Philippians 2:21: “All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ.”
I have a few friends who call or text me every so often to see how I am doing. They are folks that I know truly care about me. There is nothing I can offer them in exchange for their kindness. They genuinely are interested in my life and my soul. Do you have someone like that in your life? They go by many names: mentor, pastor, father, mother, husband, wife, or best friend. I would encourage you to reach out to them and let them know how much they mean to you. I would also ask if you are that person to someone else? We must give what we receive.
Philippians 2:20: “I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare.”
There is a reason quarantine isn’t a “normal” mode for humans. We were created for community. We were created by God to be around others. Zoom doesn’t cut it. Neither does social media. Physical presence with others has a tremendous impact on our social, emotional, and spiritual health. When the church started gathering again, I couldn’t believe the smiles. Even through masks, people’s countenance was lifted, eyes shined brightly, and hearts rejoiced. Paul found himself in prison, but still dispatched friends to pass news to ones he loved and get reports in return. Please don’t let social media be your only source of connection!
Philippians 2:19: “If the Lord Jesus is willing, I hope to send Timothy to you soon for a visit. Then he can cheer me up by telling me how you are getting along.”