Those who seek the work of Christ Jesus

 

 

[Philippians 2:19-24]

 

 

We are saying that Christians do 'the work of the Lord', but what is the work of the Lord?  I have thought about the Lord's work, centered on two of the personal meditations of Scripture passages:

 

(1)   The first passage of Scripture is Acts 14: 21-23: “After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.’  When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”

 

Based on these verses, I thought about the work of the Lord as four things:  (a) First, the work of the Lord is to preach the gospel (v. 21).  Paul risked his life in preaching the gospel because there were those who opposed the gospel and Paul who was preaching the gospel.  Paul nearly died when he was preaching the gospel in Lystra.  So he had to risk his life and preached the gospel. (b) Second, the Lord's work is to make disciples (v.  21).  Paul and Barnabas went to Derbe and preached the gospel.  And they made many disciples there.  They obeyed Matthew 28:19-20, that they went and made Jesus’ disciples of all nations.  (c) Third, the Lord's work is to strengthen the souls of the disciples (Acts 14: 22c-23).  After finishing their ministry successfully at Derbe, Paul and Barnabas revisited the mission field and strengthened the souls of the disciples.  (d) Fourth, the Lord's work is to build leaders in the church (v. 23).  Paul and Barnabas revisited the mission field and chose elders for each church.  And they prayed with fasting and they commended them to the Lord.

 

(2)   The second passage is John 6:29: “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.’”

 

We need to prioritize clearly.  The first thing we need to do is not to serve God.  The first thing we need to do is "the work of God.”  And the work of God is to believe in Jesus Christ whom God sent.  Then what do we have to do to believe in Jesus, our priority task?  We must hear the words of Christ.  Look at Romans 10:17 – “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”  Faith comes from hearing the word of Christ.  Therefore, we must diligently hear the word of the Lord.  And there must be our progress of faith (Phil. 1:25).

 

In Philippians 2:19, as Paul wrote the letter to the saints of the Philippian church, he said that he wanted to send Timothy to them quickly.  What was the reason?  The reason was because Paul wanted to be encouraged by learning their condition (v. 19).  In other words, Paul wanted to send Timothy to the Philippian church saints quickly, so that through him he would hear the news about their condition and be encouraged.  So before sending Timothy to them, Paul introduced Timothy to the Philippian church saints: “Other people are interested only in their own lives, not in the work of Jesus Christ” (Expanded Bible).  What did Paul mean?  He meant that everyone was seeking their own interest and not the work (or interest) of Jesus Christ.  In Paul’s view, this was contrary to his teaching.  What was Paul’s teaching?  Look at Philippians 2:4 – “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”  Paul told the Philippian church saints to look not only for their own personal interests but also for the interests of others.  If so, then shouldn’t they look for and concern about the interest (work) of the Lord Jesus Christ?  But as Paul continued to write his letter to the Philippian church saints, he said that they were seeking their own interests and only Timothy was seeking the work (or interest) of Christ Jesus (v. 21).  That was why he said to them that he hoped to send Timothy who was genuinely concerning for their welfare to the Philippian church saints (vv. 20-21).  So I would like to receive a lesson from God as we meditate on Timothy, who sought the work of Christ Jesus under the title of "Those who seek the work of Christ Jesus."  I hope and pray that we may be like Timothy who sought the work of Christ Jesus.

 

                Who seeks the work of Christ Jesus?  

 

                First, those who seek the work of Christ Jesus genuinely concern for their brothers and sisters’ welfare.

 

Look at Philippians 2:20 – “For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.”  Apostle Paul introduced Timothy whom he wanted to send to the Philippian church saints as a man with “likeminded” (v. 20, KJV; cf. v. 2).  Isn’t this introduction a little interesting?  This introduction of Paul about Timothy was interesting to me because the Philippian church saints weren’t likeminded (v. 2).  In particular, two women who had shared Paul’s struggle in the cause of the gospel, Euodia and Syntyche didn’t have the same mind in the Lord (4:2-3).  Paul, who knew this, said he wanted to send Timothy, who had the same heart with him, to them quickly in order to be encouraged by knowing their condition.  I think there is a hidden message from Paul toward the Philippian church saints.  In particular, Paul seems to be telling that message to Euodia and Syntyche who had shared Paul’s struggle in the cause of the gospel.  And that message was for Euodia and Syntyche to have “the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (2:2) by imitating Paul and Timothy who were likeminded and who genuinely concern for their welfare (v. 20).  How could Paul and Timothy have the same mind?  What kind of mind did they have?  They both had the mind of Jesus Christ (v. 5).  What is the mind of Christ Jesus?  What is the mind of Christ Jesus that Paul and Timothy had?  It is the mind that “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (v. 8).  Paul and Timothy who were sent by the Lord had a humble heart to submit to the will of the Lord who sent them.  That was why they were able to have the same mind and united in spirit.

 

The reason Paul introduced Timothy to the saints in Philippian church was because he believed that Timothy was the one who genuinely concern their condition.  Here the word “genuinely” means ‘the father's sincerity to his son" (Park Yun-sun).  That is, just as the father is sincerely thinking of his son's situation, Paul told the Philippian church saints that Timothy genuinely concerned their situation.  How could Paul have introduced Timothy to them like this?  I looked up the answer in the relationship between Paul and Timothy.  In Paul's letters, we can see that Paul said of Timothy: “my true child in the faith” (1 Tim. 1:2), “my beloved son” (2 Tim. 1:2), “my beloved and faithful child in the Lord” (1 Cor. 4:17).  When we look at these expressions, we can see that Timothy was Paul's beloved and faithful true son in the Lord.  In other words, the relationship between the Paul and Timothy was a relationship between the spiritual father and the spiritual son, and a love relationship with each other.  That was why Paul had no doubt that Timothy genuinely concern about the Philippian church saints’ welfare (Phil. 2:20).   And he wanted to send Timothy quickly to them.  As soon as Paul saw how things went with him, he hoped to send Timothy immediately (v. 23).  The reason was because Paul wanted to know their condition through Timothy (v. 19).

 

                Isn’t it natural that we want to know the condition of the person we love?  In particular, isn’t it the parents’ interest to know the situation of their beloved children who are far away?  Just as the parents thought of their children, Paul was thinking genuinely about the Philippian church saints who he loved, and thus he wanted to send Timothy, who also genuinely thought about them, immediately to them to know their condition.  It was because Paul wanted to be encouraged by knowing their condition through Timothy (v. 19).  A similar case is found in 1 Thessalonians chapter 3.  Paul sent his spiritual son Timothy to the Thessalonica church (1 Thess. 3:6).  The reason why Paul sent Timothy to them was “so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions” (v. 3) and to find out their faith (v. 5).  It was because Paul could endure it no longer (vv. 1, 5) “for fear that the tempter might have tempted you (them), and our (their) labor would be in vain” (v. 5).  And Paul's faithful beloved spiritual son Timothy, who had been sent forth, fulfilled his faithful mission and returned to Paul and brought him good news of the Thessalonian church saints’ faith and love (v. 6).  Timothy told Paul that they always thought kindly of him, longing to see him just as Paul also longed to see them (v. 6).  For this reason, in all his distress and affliction Paul was comforted about them through their faith (v. 7).  Look at the Paul's response to the good news of the Thessalonian church through Timothy: “for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord.  For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account” (vv. 8-9).  Timothy, who had been sent by Paul to the Thessalonian church, comforted Paul's heart.

 

What is it that comforts and pleases our hearts?  Do we really rejoice and be comforted when we know the condition of those we truly love?  We, who are interested in the work of Christ Jesus, should share our hearts with one another and be sincere in each other’s welfare.  And we should get to know each other's condition.  Although Paul wanted to know the Philippian church saints’ condition in Philippians, in Ephesians and Colossians, Paul wanted the Ephesian church saints and the Colossian church saints to know his condition (Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7) as well as his co-workers’ circumstances (Eph. 6:22; Col. 4:8).  Like this, Paul's relationship with the churches saints was to genuinely concern for each other’s condition and circumstances and inform and share with each other.  Therefore, they became comfort and joy to each other.  I hope and pray that we too like Paul and Timothy who genuinely concern about our church’s circumstances and each other’s circumstances so that we may comfort each other.

 

Second and last, those who seek the work of Christ Jesus serve in the work of the gospel.

 

                Look at Philippians 2:22 – “But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.”  Apostle Paul told the Philippian church saints that he hoped to send Timothy immediately (v. 19) and he first introduced Timothy to them: ‘I have no man likeminded, who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare’ (v. 20).  Paul’s second introduction about Timothy was Timothy was seeking the work of Christ Jesus (v. 21).  When we look at the Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church saints, this is what he said about Timothy: “Now if Timothy comes, see that he is with you without cause to be afraid, for he is doing the Lord's work, as I also am” (1 Cor. 16:10).  Then, in Philippians 2:22, Paul introduced Timothy the third time to the Philippian church saints: ‘Timothy has proven character.’  When Paul said “his proven worth” about Timothy (v. 22), the word “proven” here means in Greek “approval gained through testing” (Pfeiffer).  This means that Timothy’s character was proven by tests or trials.  It seems to me that Timothy was recognized as a person of proven character to the Philippian church saints because he persevered by faith (Rom. 5:4) when he was going through “the most severe trial” (2 Cor. 8:2).  And the Timothy’s good character which the Philippian church saints knew and acknowledged was his genuineness (v. 20). 

 

The personality of those who believe in Jesus is important.  In particular, sincerity is very important.  I thought of this: 'How happy are we if we can have a friend who has sincere personality?'  Especially when I think about Paul and Timothy, if our church leaders have proven character like Paul and Timothy, especially sincerity, then how happy our church will be and how the happy service and ministry will be.  In order to do that, I should first be a sincere person in front of God and my church saints.  In particular, as the covenant Heavenly Father is faithful to a child of God like me, I also should be faithful to my family and my church members.  However, when I look at myself before God, when I see my own unfaithful to my family and church members in the piercing of my conscience, I get discouraged by myself.  And when I get discouraged, the indwelling Holy Spirit reminds me the Word of God 2 Timothy 2:13 – “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” 

 

If we look at Acts chapter 16 that tells us the background of the establishment of the Philippian church, this is what the Bible says about Timothy: “and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium.” 

Timothy, who was Paul’s faithful spiritual son, was a person of good character who was praised by the brothers in Lystra and Iconium.  And he served with Paul in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father (Phil. 2:22).  To understand this more fully, we need to know more about Timothy.  Timothy grew up in a godly atmosphere as a child of a Greek father and a Jewish mother (Acts 16:1).  Since his father was a Greek, Timothy might have been influenced by the Greek in terms of many gods, but he believed and served one God as his name meant ("honoring God").  He was able to do so because he learned the Scripture from his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice (2 Tim. 1:5).  That was why Timothy, like his grandmother and his mother, had the sincere faith within him (v. 5).  Timothy, who lived faith in God, had become a model young man.  It was no wonder that Timothy, a young man who loved one God and served his neighbors, was given the praise of everyone at his home town Lystra.  The life of Timothy, who was undergoing such a Christian education in peaceful situation, met Apostle Paul and it became an opportunity of change.  When Paul visited Lystra in his first mission journey, Timothy met Paul.  And he accepted Jesus Christ through that meeting and he regarded Paul as his spiritual father and received great love and discipleship training (Internet).  And he served with Paul in the furtherance of the gospel like the child serving his father (Phil. 2:22).  Here, the word “serving” means Timothy served and obeyed his spiritual father Paul like a slave.  To this Timothy, Paul said “our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ” (1 Thess. 3:2).  And in 2 Corinthians 1:19, Paul said “For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us--by me and Silvanus and Timothy ….”  What did he mean?  Paul meant Timothy preached the Son of God, Christ Jesus, among the Corinthian church saints with Paul and Silvanus.  So Paul told the Roman church saints that Timothy was “my fellow worker” (Rom. 16:21).  In other words, Timothy was Paul's co-worker who preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ with Paul.

 

                Think once in the eyes of the Philippian church saints who received this Paul's letter.  While reading this letter of Philippians, I wonder what they thought about Timothy, whom Paul was introducing?  Of course, when Paul was introducing Timothy as the one who was likeminded, who genuinely was concerned for their welfare (Phil. 2:20) and who sought the work of Christ Jesus (v. 21), I am sure the Philippian church saints would have believed Paul’s words.  The reason was because at least for them Apostle Paul was a trustworthy servant of the Lord.  But when Paul said that Timothy had proven character and he served with Paul in the furtherance of the gospel like the child serving his father (v. 22), perhaps the Philippian church saints might have felt the sense of kinship to Timothy.  The reason I think that way is because of the words of Philippians 1:5 – “in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.”  How could the Philippian church saints, who had been participating “in the gospel from the first day until now,” not feel the sense of kinship when they heard about Timothy who also as Paul’s co-worker had been participating in the gospel?  All of them, Paul, Timothy and the Philippian church saints, sought the work of Christ Jesus (v. 21) and served in the furtherance of the gospel (v. 22).

 

All of us must seek the work of Christ Jesus.  All of us must serve in the furtherance of the gospel, whether directly or indirectly.  As we hold fast to the word of life (v. 16), we must preach the gospel to others.  What’s the reason?  The reason is because the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is the gospel of life.  We must preach the gospel that gives eternal life.  That is the service of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that is what those who seek the work of Christ Jesus should do.

 

At the beginning of this month (February 3), a pastor of the Mongolian True Love Church sent me an email with photos attached.  I remember the first time I met with him my mentor in 2007 for the first time in Mongolia and I was leading a seminar during Presbyterian Seminary retreat.  At that time, I remembered that some 60 local Mongolian seminary students attended the retreat.  When I met him, he was unique because even though he was Mongolian he was good at Korean.  When I went to Mongolia for the second time in 4 years late, I was surprised to hear that after he graduated from the seminary he committed himself 3 years to Eternal Love church that was located about 930 miles from Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.  And I still remember after the seminary graduation, I saw him taking pictures with his family and other graduated students.  After I had the second meeting with him, even though I came back to America, I kept on thinking about him.  I guess it was because he committed 3 years to the church that is far away and no one wanted to go there to serve.  So I started to support him little bit, hoping that it could be helpful to him little bit in his ministry.  After 3 years, he came to Ulaanbaatar and started a new church True Love church.  Since then, our church had been supporting True Love church.  And I put his and his congregation pictures on our church bulletin board and asked my church members to pray for him and True Love church.  Also I put two young Philippine pastors’ pictures on the same bulletin board as well so that we can pray for them as well.


Our church vision is to raise leaders.  Our concern is that the Lord will raise up His servants to build His church and build His kingdom.  As we join together in this Lord's work, what I am paying attention and praying is that the Lord's workers should be truly trustworthy people.  That's why I joined the Mexico mission team last month and went with my church elder to Tijuana, Mexico because I wanted to meet with a Mexican pastor, Victor, whom our church Hispanic Ministry Pastor Gomez told me about.  I heard about him many times through Pastor Gomez, so I wanted to see him and find out who he is.  I met Pastor Victor and his wife too.  And they joined our church mission team to go to the house of Gabriel (handicap ministry) and visited homeless ministry.  We are grateful that the Lord enabled us to meet the Lord's workers whom we can work together to do the Lord’s work.  I hope that all of us can do the Lords’ work wherever we are.  Let us seek the Lord’s work.  Let us genuinely concern about other’s welfare.  I hope and pray that all of us serve in the furtherance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.