Trusting Timothy and Crocodiles
According to BBC news some in Indonesia have considered using crocodiles to replace prison guards. The country’s anti-drug czar Budi Waseso told local reporters that he wants to house death row drug convicts on a croc-filled island because, “You can’t bribe crocodiles.” It seems that Mr. Waseso finds it easier to employ ferocious crocodiles than trustworthy men.
Throughout scripture Timothy is described to be a trustworthy servant of God but he is specifically highlighted in the book of Philippians. Timothy was no stranger to the church at Philippi. During the second missionary journey Timothy joined Paul and Silas at Lystra where he was “well spoken of by the brethren” and continued with them on to Philippi (Acts 16:1-12). Perhaps several were converted during the “many days” they spent there (Acts 16:18).
Years later Paul wrote a letter to those brethren from a Roman prison. While in prison it was difficult for Paul to be away from the saints at Philippi. He loved them dearly so they were in every prayer of the apostle (Philippians 1:4). He had confidence in them and they were in his heart (Philippians 1:6-7). He longed after his brethren so deeply that he struggled with conflicting desires to depart to be with Christ or to stay and help them further (Philippians 1:8, 21-25).
Paul wrote to encourage the Christians at Philippi to be humble servants after the likeness of Christ (Philippians 2:1-11). He expected them to obey this command even though he was not presently with them in the flesh (Philippians 2:12). He knew there existed dangers that could derail their faithfulness such as false teachers or a disruption of their unity (Philippians 3:2-3, 17; 4:2). One can imagine that it was nearly unbearable for Paul to not know how they fared against these obstacles. Paul decided to send Timothy to find out (Philippians 2:19-23).
The Philippians were informed that Timothy was being sent so that Paul could, “be of good comfort” when he found out about their status (Philippians 2:19-20). Timothy was a trustworthy man upon whom Paul could rely. He explained the reasons in his letter saying:
“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 ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me (Philippians 2:20–23).
Timothy Was Sent Because He Was Trusted by Paul. Timothy was “likeminded” with Paul when it came to caring about the brethren at Philippi. The relationships were likely forged when Timothy helped establish the congregation there. He knew these people and wanted, just as much as Paul, for things to go well for them. Unlike others Paul and Timothy cared about the gospel and the church of Christ more than their own affairs as Paul had stated earlier in the letter concerning himself (Philippians 1:12-18). In our current text Paul mentioned that Timothy would be sent because he felt the same way (Philippians 2:20-21). If I am not a trustworthy and reliable fellow-laborer with the local congregation it may be because I have not developed the caring relationships with my brethren scripture enjoins (Romans 12:10-21). I must care more about the work of the gospel and my brethren than I do my own needs or desires. This will be proven by my actions so that my fellow Christians can safely rely on me.
Timothy Was Sent Because He Was Trusted by the Brethren. Timothy had also proven himself to Paul because of their work together in the gospel (Philippians 2:22). Paul specifically reminded the Philippians that they knew Timothy was trustworthy. Timothy’s care for his brethren proved to Paul that Timothy was worthy to be sent so that he could appropriately inform Paul. But he was also sent because he knew the brethren and they knew him. Perhaps it was on Paul’s mind that the Philippians would be more likely to open up to Timothy than another helper. Another benefit would be that, if they attempted to hide sin, Timothy would know them well enough to potentially see through the deception. When we must stand up to brethren in sin it will help to have an existing relationship proven by love (Galatians 2:11; II Peter 3:15).
Timothy Was Sent Because He Was Trusted by God. Paul trusted in the Lord to send Timothy, likely meaning Timothy would be sent if it was God’s will (James 4:15). This trust had rubbed off on Timothy because he had served “as a son with the father” (Philippians 2:22). Since Paul and Timothy trusted in God, God could trust them to do His work “for it is God which worketh” in us to do His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Sanctified by the truth we are set apart to do His will as earthen vessels entrusted to carry a precious treasure (John 17:17; 2 Corinthians 4:7). All faithful Christians can be trusted to “do the work of an evangelist” if they will follow Timothy’s good example (2 Timothy 4:5). We must simply, honestly ask ourselves if we are proving that faithfulness.
Timothy’s trustworthiness had him ready to serve when called upon. Far too many elderships, congregations, preachers, and Christians are forced to look far and wide for trustworthy men and women to assist in the work of the church. When asked to help will you be proven trustworthy?