Read: Philippians 2:19-30
The Interests of Jesus Christ
What is God’s will for you? Do you have a clear sense of it? Many of us struggle to find God’s will, looking for clear signs as to whom we should marry, what job we should take, where we should live. We ask friends, “What should I do?” We search scripture for a verse to claim. We study all the options, pray and pray, and still often continue in indecision. But in our passage this week, Paul describes two friends who have no question about what they should do.
Philippians 2: 19-30
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.
25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
While we may give hours to endless questions over God’s detailed roads and goals for ourselves, Timothy and Epaphroditus asked one question: What does Jesus want? According to Paul, Timothy sought after Christ’s interests by spreading the gospel. Epaphroditus “almost died” for the work of Christ. It seems that Paul is giving them the highest praise here, singling them out as men who are singularly focused.
Oh, to have that singular focus! What does Jesus want? Not, “What do I want and how can I make it fit into God’s plan?” Not, “What is everyone else asking me to do?” And definitely not, “How many things do I need to do to be worthy of God’s love and Heaven?” Simply, “What are the interests of Christ?”
During Entermissions, Todd Lafferty caught my attention with this statement, “You only have to worship ONE God.” I see that truth in this passage. Timothy and Epaphroditus had one God, and they spent all on Him. All the things we want—we don’t have to run after those. All the things others want us to do—they are not necessarily the goal either. Our goal is just this: What does our ONE Lord want?
Here are some things that Jesus wants:
Our Repentance. “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).
Lights that Shine. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Our Reconciliation. “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you; leave your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23–25).
A Turned Cheek. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44).
Laborers. “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37–38).
Love for Little Ones. “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).
Inclusion of the Needy. “Then said he also ‘When thou make a dinner or a supper, do not call your friends, brethren, neither your kinsmen nor rich neighbors; lest they also bid you, and a recompense be made to you. But when you make a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and you shall be blessed; for they cannot recompense you: for you shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just’” (Luke 14:12–14).
The Gospel Proclaimed. Go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).
Obviously, these are only a few of the many desires of Jesus, and maybe you already feel overwhelmed. It is hard to seek Christ’s interests. It is, indeed, a full life’s work. But it is steady work, unlike chasing our own fickle desires. And it is much simpler work, rather than trying to listen to the world’s competing voices. If you are looking for the will of Jesus and stepping away from your own desires, you are on the right track. Focusing on even one of our Lord’s desires will set you down the path of love.
So if you are discouraged by questions about your own future, step out of that cycle and return to the basics by looking at Christ’s words. If we feel caught frantically pleasing everyone else in our circles, our hearts can be calmed by the will of Jesus for us: “Seek first the kingdom of God.” That was the secret to Paul’s steadfast walk (and that of Timothy and Epaphroditus). Holy Spirit, guide us in this path.