Philippians 2:19-24 (the message)
I plan (according to Jesus’ plan) to send Timothy to you very soon so he can bring back all the news of you he can gather. Oh, how that will do my heart good! I have no one quite like Timothy. He is loyal, and genuinely concerned for you. Most people around here are looking out for themselves, with little concern for the things of Jesus. But you know yourselves that Timothy’s the real thing. He’s been a devoted son to me as together we’ve delivered the Message. As soon as I see how things are going to fall out for me here, I plan to send him off. And then I’m hoping and praying to be right on his heels.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he describes Timothy as “the real thing.” This caught my attention today. What sticks out to me is his description of Timothy…he is loyal, and genuinely concerned for you. For this ordinary girl, I draw a simple conclusion here: Timothy’s loyalty and honest concern for others is what made him the real thing.
As I read over these verses and was stopped by Paul’s words, my thoughts continued on to the many, many things we can do and be involved in and verbalize about Jesus and in the end they may not add up to loyalty and genuine concern for others. Regardless of our role, our title, our years in church, our ability to quote scripture or pray with passion, it is only this loyalty and concern for people which qualifies us as the real thing. I find this a timely and amazing reminder that what Jesus cares about is people. Period. If our programs, projects and spiritual to-do lists are funneled and driven by a fervor to reach out to hurting people, all hurting people, then wonderful. But I can be honest and say that sometimes all our proclamations and preaching, all our efforts, are tainted with the mixed motives of self. Spiritual pride that lifts up our effort and accomplishment rather than the very ones all the effort is meant for.
The truth, if I want to get completely honest about it, is that deep inside if we are sensitive to Holy Spirit we know when our loyalty and concern for others gets watered down. We can keep going and “do” the things that seem so spiritual, but if our hearts are no longer broken for the hurting, if our to-do list dominates our thinking rather than how God wants to touch those He brings into our lives, we may have drifted from what it’s really all about. Our church has a mission: real hope for real people in a real world. I remember when my husband and I first attended and read that. The simplicity captured my attention. The heart of those words is reaching out to all people, no matter what, with a hope so real it can change their lives. You know what word touches me the most? Real.
As I read the scripture above this morning, I tell God how I want to be “the real thing.” I don’t want to be lulled into the comfortable place of resting on what I project if deep inside my passion for the hurting has waned. It doesn’t matter how many great ideas we have at church. It doesn’t matter how spiritual we can sound when speaking to others. It doesn’t matter what bumper sticker we put on our car. It doesn’t matter how we dress our lives if our hearts are not loyal to what God says is most important. A genuine concern for people. I smile as I think about Jesus, the most genuine and real of any person to walk the planet. Jesus, always extending a hand of grace and forgiveness. Speaking the truth and reclining in the “red light district” homes of His day. Jesus was and is the Real Hope and He is all about Real people.
I’m so thankful and I invite Him to shatter my spiritual pride. Shatter my importance. Shatter anything about me that is less than loyal and genuine. So many hurting people waiting to be loved. Desperate for a rescue. May they top my to-do list. May the eyes of the battered, confused and abused linger in my heart. Everyday, no matter where we go we have the opportunity to be like Timothy, the real thing, if we’ll make getting to know The Real Thing our greatest pursuit.