Philippians on Friday: Let God Open the Door!

Thanks for joining me today for our weekly devotion in Philippians.

Our topic last week from this passage was the “Leadership Famine.” We talked about Paul’s frustration with the shortage of quality leaders who he could send to Philippi. It was a short list of candidates who would unselfishly care for the Philippians.

Philippians 2:20-21 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. 

But there was one young man willing to go and qualified for the task – Timothy!

Philippians 2:19– But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.

Paul felt comfortable sending Timothy to the Philippians in his stead. Timothy was Paul’s son in the faith and had Paul’s spirit. How did Paul know that Timothy would naturally care for the Philippians? Paul knew Timothy was not like many of the self-promoting young ministers of the day.  Paul’s indictment of these ministers was that they “seek their own.”

Examining our Motives

This passage should make us examine our motives. Why do we do the work of God? Why do we serve in the Body of Christ? Is it for personal gain? Is it for the praise of men or to gain personal notoriety?

What is the litmus test for pure motives? It is serving to bring Glory to God not self. 

Paul was reluctant to send some ministers to Philippi. He feared they would do what was best for themselves rather than what was best for the Philippians. He was skeptical of their motives.

The word “naturally” in this passage is translated in some versions as “genuinely”:

For I have no man likeminded, who will genuinely care for your state…

Paul was saying that Timothy would be genuine in his care for the church. We can infer that the opposite of being genuine is “seeking our own.” When a person’s motives for serving are about self rather than the ones they are serving, he or she is not being genuine.

What is the litmus test for pure motives? It is serving to bring Glory to God not self. It’s ministry that points people to Christ not us. It is when we seek to build up the church and others rather than ourselves.

What Opens the Door of Opportunity?

Think about how Timothy must have felt to be called upon by the great Apostle Paul. What an opportunity! What a privilege – to be given an assignment to visit the Philippians in Paul’s stead.

PhilippiansThink about what opened the door for Timothy. Consider why Timothy was given this opportunity. It was not because Timothy was self-promoting. It was just the opposite – it was because Timothy did not seek his own.

Many people think the way to open doors is to push oneself. They believe if I promote myself and look out for number one, I will go places. Whether that’s true in the secular world is a debate for another time. What is clear in the scripture is self-promotion is not the way to be used of God. Jesus said:

11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12)

“Seeking your own” does not open doors – it closes doors! Because Timothy was not self-promoting, Paul used him. Those who were seeking their own, were overlooked by Paul. Their self-centeredness and impure motives actually closed doors of opportunity for them!

Serving the Lord

Perhaps the other men Paul referenced thought they had more distinguished or illustrious opportunities than going to Philippi. But Timothy was willing to serve wherever he was needed. And God honored that attitude. God blessed Timothy, his ministry, and his influence. To those who are faithful over few things, God makes  ruler over many things.

Let us work for the Lord with honorable, genuine motives. May we never be motivated by self-centeredness or selfish ambition. Let us humbly serve wherever we are called upon and allow God to open doors and expand our ministry.

~Matthew Ball

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2 thoughts on “Philippians on Friday: Let God Open the Door!

  1. Excellent points made. I thought of Peter’s instructions, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Pet 5:6). There is only one who promotes us in the kingdom, and it’s certainly not ourselves.