Friday, May 4, 2018
Philippians 2:22 But you know that Timothy has proven himself…
I wonder what motivated Timothy to sign on to Paul’s second missionary journey. Like many of us, the excitement of traveling to far off lands could have captivated him. Like so many young people, he may have been bored with his home town and been stifled with the limited number of opportunities for career advancement. Maybe he was a natural risk-taker and he was looking for the next emotional high. Maybe he was ready to finally get out from under his parent’s wings. So many of us make choices based on these types of criteria. However, I don’t think that’s what Timothy did.
The fourth identifying mark of a spiritual role model is that he has proven himself to have a true servant spirit.
When Paul arrived in Lystra and began to minister there, the men of the church spoke highly of a young man named Timothy. They saw the working of the Holy Spirit in Timothy’s life. His consistent commitment to Jesus Christ was evident to them all. When Paul met Timothy, he confirmed all that was being said about him. He decided that Timothy would be of great value to his church planting efforts. He asked Timothy to join him in the adventure of the gospel.
I’m reasonably sure that these men talked about where they would go and the difficulties they would encounter. I’m sure Timothy had a realistic understanding of the hardships that were ahead. But none of that mattered because in his heart and spirit he had heard the call of God to this ministry. Apart from all the personal reasons he could have considered to either go or stay at home, he had only one criteria for what he would decide – what God was telling him to do.
Years ago, God revealed to me that a young man in our church was being called to future leadership in the church. I remember well the day that I called him up and asked him to go to lunch with me. As I shared with him what I knew God was doing in his life, and how he was highly regarded for his consistent commitment to Jesus Christ, a tear came to his eye, which of course brought tears to mine. As we talked, this young man’s humble spirit became the spirit of a servant, and he accepted the challenge to take whatever steps were necessary to eventually become an elder in our church. For twelve years he humbly served in various positions and proved himself faithful in each one. He is well respected by the body of Christ, and today, even though it is not at Calvary, he is an Elder in his church. It is outside his natural comfort zones, but he heard the call of God and made his choice based on that alone.
It is obvious that Timothy made his choice for the same reason. His first assignment as a missionary was to submit to the painful procedure of circumcision. God tested his commitment right from the start, and Timothy proved himself faithful. I wonder how many times we have backed down from a commitment because it turned out to be tougher than we expected. In Romans 5:3-4, Paul writes, “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
The test of commitment is the first step in the process of maturity. Far too many people have dropped out before they experience any blessing because they can’t pass the first test. But look at what happens if you persevere – you develop character. That word character in Romans 5:4 is the same word used to describe Timothy in Philippians 2:22 when Paul says he has proven himself. That is significant. Timothy’s commitment to the cause of Christ, no matter what the test, trial, hardship, or suffering, gave him character. He had proven himself faithful.
What is being said about us by the people around us? Do they see consistent commitment to God’s call? Can they say honestly that we have proven ourselves faithful? Beyond that, regardless of what people say, what does God see?
My friends, after all has been considered, listen to God’s call alone, and be faithful to it. It is only when we have been proven to have character that we experience hope.