Philippians 2:20-21 (NLT) I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
Timothy was arguably Paul’s greatest disciple – he learned how to be a great leader and pastor simply by serving Paul.
Paul singles out what was so special about Timothy – he always showed ‘genuine concern’ for the welfare of others. He goes onto state, he ‘looks out for the interests of others.’
In other words, Timothy learned to shift the focus away from himself, and onto other people.
This is something we have to learn to do because it doesn’t come naturally. The natural thing to do is to always look out for me – this is human nature. That’s why God sent His Son Jesus into the world, so the world could learn how to live and love the way Jesus does.
If you want to become a follower or disciple of Jesus, this is what you must learn to do: stop looking out for your own interests and start serving the interests of others.
Look at how other translations say this:
Don’t be so obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. (MSG)
All the others seem to be wrapped up in their own affairs… (PHILIPS)
Are you too wrapped up in yourself?
One of the reasons we can be wrapped up in ourselves is because everything in our culture points the focus towards ourselves. Advertising is always trying to get you to be thinking and focusing on yourself. Companies compete for market share by appealing to “you.” “Me first” sounds nice, but it's the same divisive trap that the snake used to trick Adam and Eve within the garden. And look at the fruit today – it’s not only people but entire nations that think only about themselves – they compete rather than cooperate, and this leads to war, terror, corruption, greed, suspicion, insecurity and poverty.
So be very careful about embracing all that our culture tries to indoctrinate you with, it is the exact opposite of what Jesus teaches, and every believer must be taking their lead from Jesus, not the world.
But Paul singles out Timothy as a shining example of the way to live.
Timothy has ‘proven himself’ (Philippians 2:22) before God and before Paul. He proved himself by walking down the path of humility, not pride; by being selfless, not selfish; by seeking to serve rather than being self-serving. He showed a genuine interest in other people, not those he would receive something from.
Developing these rare attributes of Timothy need to be learned. They will require intentionality and a level of commitment where you are receiving from God every day. This is the type of investment God wants you to make. Start today by shifting the focus off yourself.