THE LIFE OF THE LORD’S SERVANTS WHO FOLLOW JESUS’ EXAMPLE
By Lay Pastor Setio Dharma Kusuma
Lemah Putro, Sunday, October 20, 2019
Mostly when one is facing some challenges or life struggles, they need some care and attention from their closest ones to help them get through the situations. Nevertheless, Apostle Paul did something unusual while being imprisoned. He didn’t pity himself, instead he planned to send his spiritual son, Timothy, to the congregation in Philippi. Didn’t he need Timothy to be around as he would need his assistance? The Apostle Paul admitted that Timothy had helped him as how a child helps his father, and his faithfulness was undoubted. Indeed, it didn’t really make sense when he wanted to send the one he needed to Philippi.
What becomes the Apostle Paul's source of strength to send Timothy to the Philippi? Philippians 2:19-24 say, “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.”
It’s clear that as Christ’s servant, the Apostle Paul put Him first and utmost. Now, what are the life characteristics of the servants who follow Jesus’ example?
- Having hearts and minds that focus on the cross of Christ (Philippians2:6-8).
For most people in the world, when they suffer, they hope for comfort. Facing some challenges in life, they need hope for support. Facing some struggles, they would need companions/friends. Those are different from the Apostle Paul, as a servant of Christ, his mind and heart focus only on the cross of Christ.
What did the Apostle Paul specifically follow from Jesus Christ? What did Jesus think when He was hanged on the cross? Being hanged on the cross, He didn’t think about Himself, but He thought about the redemption of all people. This became an example for the Apostle Paul that he learned not to think about himself; therefore, he was willing to send Timothy to Philippi. The Apostle Paul even had life motto, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21)”. As a servant, his role model is Jesus Christ.
Sure it isn’t a problem when we face any problems or mourning, we would think about the way out, but how will we react when we see our brethren need some help? Shall we care about them or do we just care to mingle about our own business till it is done? It’s true, though, that people would think we are stupid to care about someone else’s business while we are still dealing with our own problem. However, the Bible clearly states that the hearts and minds that focus on the cross of Christ is a foolishness to the world (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Pay more attention on this, when our heart and mind aren’t focusing on the cross of Christ, we will only have self-pity. We would hope for people’s attention as we face problems. That is totally different from the Apostle Paul. The Apostle Paul had a thought that living in this world means he works and bears fruit (Philippians 1:22). To whom he bears the fruit? Jesus once ordered to cut down the fig tree that has no fruit for it’s in vain to live without producing any fruit (Luke 13:6-7).
We need to bear fruit in our life for: (1) The Lord by loving Him with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. (2) Our neighbors by loving our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31).
Why was the Apostle Paul’s heart so burdened for the congregation in Philippi? The church/believers' fellowship in Philippi was built by Paul, Timothy, Silas and Luke. This is the story, one night the Apostle Paul got a vision of seeing a Macedonian shout to him and ask him to come over and help them. Therefore, the four of them went to Macedonia and Philippi was the first city they visited. There they stayed and shared the Gospel. One day, they walked down the riverside and found a synagogue (of the people who didn’t believe in Christ as their Savior). The Apostle Paul talked to the ladies who gathered in the area. One of them was Lydia, the seller of purple cloth. The Lord opened Lydia’s heart and the story ended with Lydia and her whole house were baptized (Acts 16:9-15).
Not long after that, they went to a worship place and met a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination. The Apostle Paul was greatly annoyed, so he cast the spirit away. This made this woman’s masters angry as their hope of profit was gone. They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the authorities. They were jailed then, but the Lord miraculously freed them and made the keeper of the prison and his whole family believed in the Gospel and baptized (vv. 16-33).
- Being involved and always have time to serve theLord.
Talking about mission, it needs a missionary who dedicates his time ini God’s work. For example: Pastor van Gessel came to Indonesia and worked on the Tabernacle teaching. It required quite a lot of time (not only 1-2 days) for him to make people around him believe in Jesus.
The Apostle Paul had a heart for the congregation in Philippi because he had gathered with them and spent a lot of his time with them.
Did Jesus also get involved with and spend His time for His mission? God has a heart for man. That’s why He wants to be with us and spend His time for us. What is the evidence? Hebrews 1:1-2 write, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.”
The verse above mentions about time “time past and last days” and also the involvement “the prophets and His Son.” In the Old Testament days, the Prophet Samuel anointed Saul as a king (1 Samuel 10:1) and rebuked him when he didn’t obey God (1 Samuel 15:13-23); the Prophet Nathan rebuked David who just committed adultery (2 Samuel 12), etc. In the New Testaments days, Jesus spent His time for 33 years for one reason that is to save mankind.
Therefore, it’s clear that the life of the Lord’s servants is marked with their involvement and how they give their time to serve Him. Sadly, in reality it’s still hard for us to be involved in the Lord’s works, whereas on the other hand, it’s easy for us to find time to earn money and have fun like travelling, shopping, etc.
There is a testimony from a pastor: There was a young married man who got a level 4 cancer. He was hospitalized and his poor body became very thin. His pastor visited him with a withered flower. This poor guy who was surrounded by his family told his pastor about his condition. The pastor listened to him and as he asked for a prayer, the pastor happily prayed for him so that he would be strong in facing this condition. When the pastor was about to leave, the guy asked him about the withered flower. The pastor requested to talk in person with him. The pastor then reminded him about what happened when he was still single: the people in church asked him to lead the youth service, but he rejected the offer for he was busy with his college thesis. As he graduated, the pastor’s wife asked him to lead the church choir, but again, he rejected the offer as he wanted to focus on his career. After getting married, he was asked to be a church council for the church needed his ideas and energy. Again, he refused the offer. Now, as he was in a very weak condition, he promised that he would minister to God if God healed him. Listening to what the pastor said, he then cried out loud.
The story is a warning for us who are still healthy. Is the Lord a beggar who begs on the street side so that we would give what is left from our time or what is left from our unhealthy body? When we are healthy and strong, we are busy having fun and wallowing in sin, but when we finally get sick, we start to look for God. We must remember that as we still have time and are able to minister the Lord, we must make use of this chance. If our pastor or lay pastor asks us to take part in church ministry, we must really pray about it to see if it is really what the Lord wants in our life. Let not our weaknesses be the reason for us to reject the offer to minister Him. Even for us who are old and weak, we still have a chance to be involved in the intercessory prayer.
- Having the interest forChrist.
We can’t deny that in all ministries, there must be an interest. However, the requirement isn’t of our interest, but the interest of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:20-21).
Be careful, if our own interests occur and dominate us in serving the Body of Christ, though our mind is on the Christ’s cross and we actively take part in the service for the Lord, still, we will be lost. Don’t act like the politicians who say there isn’t any eternal friend or enemy; for the only eternal thing is the party’s interest.
It turned out that the Apostle Paul once had to deal with the problem about self-interest in the ministry. He had working partner by the name of Demas who was also part of the ministry in Colosse (Colossians 4:14) and in Philemon (Philemon 1:24). Sadly, not long before the death of the Apostle Paul, Demas left the ministry of Christ for he loved this present world (2 Timothy 4:10). Didn’t Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ disciple, had his own interest though the Lord used and even gave him an authority to cast away evil spirits, illness and weaknesses (Matthew 10:1)? In the last minutes of the crucifixion of Jesus, money became Judas’ interest.
The word “self-interest” in the English Bible (KJV) was “strive”; in the New American Standard Bible (NASB) it was “dispute” = fight, quarrel; in the New International Version (NIV) it was “selfish ambition” = an egoistic ambition.
Beware, “self-interest” can make us get lost for it’s a part of the work of the flesh that can cause us to lose our part in the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21). In other words, self-interest causes quarrel and dispute. Therefore, if in our ministries suddenly a quarrel/dispute happens, this must have occurred because we have self-interests that we ourselves may not really recognize it before.
What are the characteristics if we have Christ’s interest?
- Do not look for praises (Philippi 2:3a).
If we seek for praises in our ministries, this isn’t about the interest of Christ anymore but our own interest.
- Being humble.
When we work on Christ’s interest, there must be humility that is shown by prioritizing and caring about others’ interests (Philippians 2:3b-4).
Let’s have the hearts and minds that focus on Christ’s cross, give our time and actively take part in a ministry. Let us serve Him by prioritizing His interest instead of ours. This is the kind of ministry that follows the Christ’s example and that’s how we get a part in His Kingdom. Amen.