“But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.” -Philippians 2:19–24
Possessing a “proven character” and being “humble” go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other.
A proven character is nothing without humility, and humility cannot come without a proven character. They feed off of each other.
In the words of Solomon:
“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold.” -Proverbs 22:1
In our world, a proven character is hard to come by anymore.
I find myself constantly irritated by the laziness and lack of integrity in contractors. They’ve established a name for themselves to cut corners and take short cuts that ultimately produce long term problems in their buildings and projects.
I mean, they’ve even made countless reality T.V. shows on this very idea. How about “Holmes on Homes”? (I love that show -he’s such a good guy.) He goes in to fix homes for people who were gipped by their contractors, and it’s truly frightening to see some of the things they discover behind the wall.
Here’s the point.
Christians, of all people, ought to be men and women of proven character.
We ought to be who we say we are. When the world comes to dig up dirt on us, they should find nothing behind the wall, as it were. Our character ought to shine in the open as well as in the dark.
You see, representing Jesus and the Gospel isn’t about wearing Christian shirts and listening to Christian music to tell everyone you’re a Christian. (I know. I know. How many times do we have to use that illustration?) But is it not true that we fall into this snare so often.
The trustworthiness of our character should be cranked up far louder than our stereos.
So what does a proven character look like?
I’m glad you asked.
Here in Philippians 2:19-24, there are 4 things we can learn from the character of Timothy.
1. In the first place, let us observe that Timothy’s character was faithful .
“But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.” -Philippians 2:19–20
This very statement shows that Timothy was not only a good leader, but a good and faithful follower.
Timothy was a man who shared the same mindset as Paul. Trust me, this was no easy task. Paul’s philosophy of ministry and pastoral heart were radical, intense and dangerous.
Timothy was, in all practical purposes, a second Paul.
Paul uses the word or the concept of “like-mindedness” in the short book of Philippians over 10 times. But this time, Paul uses a completely different Greek word to describe Timothy’s likemindedness.
The Greek word is ἰσόψυχος (ee-sop´-soo-khos) which means “of the same soul.” The word was used in ancient times to describe the dying breath of a man which portrayed the soul leaving the body in a visible way. Because of this, it had also come to mean “of the same breath.”
You see, this word speaks of so much more than mental unity. It speaks of a bond that is intertwined at the epicenter of the soul -a bond so close and so real that it surpasses the physical and mental similarities and enters the unity of the soul and spirit.
The things that Paul ached for, Timothy ached for. The things that put Paul’s heart to rest, put Timothy’s heart to rest. The things that fill Paul’s heart with joy, filled Timothy’s heart with joy.
This is what made Timothy faithful to Paul’s ministry.
This is what gave Timothy his proven character -his ability to be faithful on a soul level.
This is a likemindedness we need to pray for as the church -that we would be intertwined to the depths of our souls in all we say and do.
From this a proven character is sure to shine forth.
2. In the second place, let us observe that Timothy’s character was sincere and caring.
“For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.” -Philippians 2:20
“Sincerity” and “care” are two words that are hard to put together in a real life application.
There are many who sincerely do not care, and many who insincerely care, but there are few who sincerely care.
We all know how it is.
We begin pouring out our hearts to someone who may have all the right words, but you get the vibe that it’s not sincere. Not only have we experienced this, but we’ve surely done it to others.
In the words of James: “If one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” -James 2:16
A proven character sincerely cares.
3. In the third place, let us observe that Timothy’s character was selfless and Christ centered.
“For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 2:21
The implication here is that Timothy was not someone who sought his own but sought the things which are of Jesus Christ.
Timothy could be relied on because he was never in it for himself.
Listen. It doesn’t matter how much the someone hates your theology, if you selflessly care for them they will come around to hear your theology.
How many more doors of evangelism would be open if we pursued the souls of others selflessly?
Preaching the gospel may seem like a selfless thing to do (and at the core, it is), but we can ruin it with alternate motives.
Yes, let’s rejoice when the gospel is preached whether it be done out of selfish ambition or in sincerity, as Paul said earlier in Philippians 1, but by all means if we can do it selflessly for the glory of God, why don’t we?!
Sure. Sure. We can get the gospel out. But can we do it with a proven and trust worthy character?
4. In the last place, let us observe that Timothy’s character was serving and gospel centered.
“But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.” -Philippians 2:22
Timothy was a servant. He served at Paul’s side in some of the most gnarly events you can think of, and when everyone else forsook Paul and the gospel, Timothy remained.
Timothy stayed true to the course for the sake of the gospel, not because he was strong but because he was a servant.
Timothy was someone that Paul could rely on and never doubted could always perform. Perhaps Timothy was even more stable than Paul himself, and the reason why Paul commends Timothy so often in the Scriptures is because Paul was convicted by Timothy’s life.
You see, there is a difference between serving and being a servant. Christ called us, not to serve but to be servants. It’s an identity. Timothy had this identity.
We too can be a Timothy.
Some final words.
The humility of a proven character needs to be prayed for over our lives, that God would shine His convicting light on our souls and show us where our character fails.
We can be sure that where there is a lack of character, there is also a lack of humility.
This makes the remedy easy.