May 21 – The Failure of Leaders

I have no one like–minded, who will sincerely care for your state.

Philippians 2:20

Church history may record ours as the era of disastrous collapse within the leadership of the church. The standards for leadership have been lowered, and many thousands have tragically lost their way.

Where are the godly and truthful men? Where are the humble, unselfish models of virtue? Where are the examples of victory over temptation? Where are those who show us how to pray and overcome trials or adversity?

We have a sick and distorted church because we’ve lost sight of Christ, His Word, and the Spirit. We’ve lost sight of our clear pattern for growth in the life of the apostle Paul. And we have tolerated a lower standard for leadership than the Bible allows. The essence of Christianity is becoming more like Christ. Matters such as right relationships, service, and evangelism will be taken care of if we just pursue that one holy goal.[1]

Timothy also had the virtue of being sympathetic. With the utmost confidence, Paul could assure the Philippians that Timothy will genuinely be concerned for their welfare. The verb merimnaō (concerned for) expresses a strong feeling for something or someone, often to the point of being burdened. Jesus used the verb to speak of needless anxiety and worry (cf. Matt. 6:25–28; 10:19; Luke 10:41), and later in the present letter it is rendered “anxious” (4:6). But Paul here uses it in a positive sense to describe Timothy’s great concern for the welfare of the Philippian church. Like his Lord, Paul had constant “concern for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28) and was confident that Timothy shared that concern. They were true shepherds, whose foremost concern was for the welfare of their sheep.[2]

As far as temperament, disposition, and inclination were concerned, and this especially with a view to the present assignment, there was no one who could compare with Timothy. There was no one with a heart like his. His was a fine, sympathetic, amiable spirit. It is as if Paul were saying, “You, Philippians, must not be disappointed if upon my release I cannot in person immediately come to see you. As soon as ever possible (see verse 23) I will dispatch Timothy. No one is better qualified and more favorably disposed. Already as a child he was an eager student of the sacred writings, a teachable and obedient son (2 Tim. 3:15). As he grew up he was highly recommended by those who knew him best (Acts 16:2). Upon his conversion to the Christian faith he became my beloved and faithful child in the Lord (1 Cor. 4:17), and a little later my special deputy and fellow-worker (Rom. 16:21), always ready to go wherever I sent him or to be left behind wherever I told him to remain (Rom. 16:21). To top it all, he is God’s minister in the gospel of Christ (1 Thess. 3:2). And do not forget either that from the very founding of your church he has known you, and you have known him, for not only was he present when your church was established (Acts 16:11–40; 1 Thess. 2:2) but subsequently he has also visited you upon more than one occasion (Acts 19:21, 22; 20:3–6; 2 Cor. 1:1). He therefore is a natural. Yes, you can surely bank on it that he will be genuinely interested in your welfare (literally, in the things concerning you).”[3]

2:20 Among Paul’s companions, Timothy was unique in his unselfish care for the spiritual condition of the Philippians. There was no one else whom Paul could send to them with the same confidence. This is a high commendation indeed for one as young as Timothy![4]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 158). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (pp. 197–198). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Philippians (Vol. 5, p. 134). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1969). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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