Heavenly Citizens: Honorable, Not Critical

June 21, 2022

Speaker: Michael Dennis

Audio Download

Bible Passage: Philippians 2:19-30

This morning we are going to talk about the importance of honoring the men in our life. We’re not talking about this subject this morning because it is Father’s Day at our church in Austin. Our passage this morning happens to be the passage in our series and our passage is honoring men in our life because good men are hard to find in life.
It is easy to be a man who does what he wants to do when he wants to do it. Listen to me young people, it is easy to be a man who seeks his own interests. It is easy to be a man that chases after his own comforts. It is easy to be a man who makes jokes all the time and hangs out with other men who make jokes. That’s easy. But when men and women give their lives to Jesus, give their lives to serving others, give their life looking after the interests of others then those are hard to find and when we do find them, we must honor them, because people tend to replicate what is elevated and honored. Does that make sense?
When you hold up images of Justin Bieber you start seeing young men walk around who are dressed like Justin Bieber in Austin. When you hold up images of Kim Kardashian you start seeing young women walk around who want to look like Kim Kardashian in Austin. Why?
It’s because we as a people tend to emulate or replicate what is honored and esteemed, therefore, when there are men and women in our life who love Jesus, who love helping others love Jesus then those people need to be honored because it increases the chances that their lives will be replicated into the lives of others. In our passage this morning we are going to see two men who are honored, 1. Timothy and 2. Epaphroditus and God’s Word is going to call us to 3. Honor Such Men.

  1. Example of Timothy (vs. 19-24).

Philippians 2:19-21, “19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. 20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.”

Notice verse 19 starts off with “hope in the Lord Jesus.” This is critical. This morning we are going to elevate and honor everyday people in life, but our ultimate hope is in Jesus. We want to look to honor people in our life but we’re not trying to be honored if that makes sense. We aren’t trying to get people to notice us so we can be honored, because the winner is always Jesus. Even in our passage this morning. Yes, God’s Word is honoring Timothy and Epaphroditus, but Jesus is the hero of chapter 2. Verses 5-11 are the greatest verses in God’s Word about Jesus, but God’s Word isn’t just high and lofty descriptions about God’s glory.
Yes, God is glorious, but the intent of God’s glory is to change our life. It’s why we see a call to obeying God’s Word (vs. 12). It’s why Paul writes this this anthem of God’s glory (vs. 5-11), then writes about how God’s glory has completely changed his life (vs. 12-17), and then turns to those who are in Christ and says, “You too!” (vs. 18) It is a pattern of principle (God’s glory), practice (this is what it looks like), and then pattern (this is what it looks like in the life of others). Isn’t that good? Principle, practice, pattern, and we need those patterns in life. We need examples in life at our church in Austin.
I remember when I first came to faith in Jesus. I was 18 years old, and I was all over the place. I was living in the world; I was living for the world and then I come to faith in Jesus, and I didn’t understand what this life in Christ was supposed to look like. Was I supposed to start wearing khaki’s all the time? Did I have to stop cussing all the time? Is my relationship with the opposite sex supposed to change? What’s supposed to change? And by God’s grace the Lord brought some men into my life as an example for me to follow.
In the same way, we see God’s Word pointing us to an example in Timothy so that the Apostle Paul writes, “My hope is in Jesus, but it would be great if you get to meet Timothy.” Do you see that in verse 18? Paul would love for the Philippian church to meet Timothy. Look at verses 22-24:

Philippians 2:22-24, “22 But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father. 23 Therefore I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me; 24 and I trust in the Lord that I myself also will be coming shortly.” 

Notice the language “proven worth” at the beginning of verse 22. Those words have the connotation of “proving through suffering.” It means Timothy has proven himself to be faithful over and over by persevering through difficult, hardship and heartache, and that’s why we honor such men.
How many times have we said to ourselves, “I’m going to start reading the Bible every day and then stopped 3 days into it?” How many of us have said to ourselves, “I am going to really commit to this local church in Austin and 3-weeks in something starts to break in life?” It happens all the time! How many of us have said to one another, “We should grab lunch!” Sounds great. Let’s do it! And we genuinely mean it, but weeks and months go by, and it never happens. It’s because life is hard. Hardships are going to come. Heartache is going to happen.
Therefore, when we have men in our life who preserve through the difficulty, hardship, and heartache it is a blessing and we honor them for not giving up. We not only want to honor these men in our life, but we want to emulate their patterns. It means we will have moments in our life of great failure, and we keep showing up. It means we will have moments when we neglect God’s Word in our life, and we keep showing up. It means we will have moments where we try to help people grow in Jesus, those people will completely ignore us, and we keep showing up. It is those types of qualities in Timothy that spurs Paul on to say to the Philippians, “I can’t wait for you to meet Timothy? I am so excited for you to meet Timothy. I don’t know anyone else like Timothy.” Timothy is genuinely concerned for others. I have seen it over and over and over. Timothy is genuinely committed to Christ. I have seen it over and over and over. It is a quality that is proven over and over.

  1. The Example of Epaphroditus.

Philippians 2:25-27, “25 But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need; 26 because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow.”

Again, in verse 25, we see God’s Word honoring the life of Epaphroditus. Epaphroditus was a man from Philippi. His name comes from Aphrodite, a Greek god for love, and yet Epaphroditus allegiance is to Christ and in verse 25 we see God’s Word describing Epaphroditus as “my brother, fellow worker, fellow soldier, messenger and minister” and this is coming from the Apostle Paul. What an encouragement!
“My brother” is a reference to being family in the Lord. Epaphroditus is Greek, Paul is Jewish but in Christ they are family. Through faith in Jesus, we are adopted into the family as a new identity. We are no longer individuals. We are no longer strangers. We are brothers and sisters in the Lord. Isn’t that beautiful? In addition, Epaphroditus is a “fellow worker” in the gospel. Timothy is getting trained to be a pastor, Epaphroditus is a “messenger” a courier bringing financial support from Philippi to Paul in prison, and yet God’s Word describes Epaphroditus as a “fellow worker.”
Where we work is just where we happen to work but when we are in Christ we are all “fellow workers” in the gospel. Epaphroditus is also referred to as a “fellow soldier.” The phrase “fellow soldier” is someone who is in a spiritual battle, someone who is in a spiritual war, someone who is going to go through challenges with you in life. Listen, I don’t know who is characterizing life in Jesus as easy and comfortable, but they aren’t reading the Bible. Life in Jesus is going to be a fight, so that Epaphroditus goes to work for Christ and goes to war for Christ.
I will be vulnerable with you and tell you that sometimes as a parent I think to myself, “I don’t want my children to be fellow soldiers and fellow workers in the gospel.” Sometimes I find myself thinking about my children’s comfort and how to make their life safe and secure with a long life of pleasure. But I know that what is better than the ease and comfort of this world is to know the Lord Jesus and have Him walk them through life. I know the ease and comforts of this world are fleeting but Jesus will carry them through anything in life, therefore, the best place for my children to end up is to be fellow workers and soldiers in the gospel.
Do you have these types of men in your life? Are you honoring these types of men in your life? Are you emulating these types of men in your life? That’s the invitation of God’s Word this morning

  1. Honor Such Men.

Philippians 2:28-30, “28 Therefore I have sent him all the more eagerly so that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you. 29 Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard; 30 because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me.”

In verse 29 we see God’s Word calling us to “hold men like him in high regard.” We see the example of Timothy; we see the example of Epaphroditus and verse 29 calls us to “hold people like them in high regard.” It doesn’t mean these people are the heroes of the story. Jesus is the hero of the story, but we need examples, we need models and in our church family it starts with our elders and elders in training. Right now, we only have one volunteer elder in our church family in Austin and that’s Dustin Rogers. Dustin gives his time to this church family in Austin; Dustin offers his talents to this church family in Austin but more than that you need to know that Dustin loves Jesus and loves this church family in north Austin, and we need to hold men like him in high regard. Keith and I get paid to this job. We get financial compensation to serve the Lord, which is a gift from the Lord we receive now, but Dustin is storing up treasures in heaven so that his love for this church and his love for Jesus moves him to make that investment. It’s beautiful!
We also have Jac Greene and Roberto Moctezuma going through the Elder-In-Training process. That is a 12-month process where they read books, take tests, attend meetings, and they submit themselves to this process. These are men who are proving themselves through the hardship of this training.
It is a blessing to our church family in north Austin that we have men who would volunteer themselves to go through that process. That’s beautiful. Both Jac and Roberto are about 2/3’s of the way through the training and come September, Lord willing, we will go through a discernment process to see if it is the Lord’s will for these two men to step into our elder role.
I am sure that some of us in the room are thinking to themselves, “What about the women who are serving the Lord?” Shouldn’t we honor them? Absolutely. We have men and women in our church family in Austin who are not elders and yet they are incredibly committed to Jesus, our church family. We have men and women in our church family in north Austin who are gifted, committed, valuable men and women who serve and sacrifice in ways many of us will never know about, but God’s Word reminds us over and over the importance of having godly men like the elders in our church family in Austin and we must honor such men so that the Lord might replicate those qualities in the life of our church family. Let me close with a story…
Sometimes people look at my life as a pastor and they assume I must have grown up in a home where the love of Christ was honored and valued so that I was naturally guided into the pastoral role but what led me into this role in life is God’s Word and other men who poured their life into me.
Early on there was a man named Wendel who was newly married, newborn child in his home, and he moved a 20-year-old punk into his home and started to fill some maturity gaps in my life. I am incredibly thankful for him.
A few years later there was a man named Rocky. He was just a few years older than me and one day he asked me, “Do you want to learn how to study the Bible?” I said, “No.” By God’s grace the Lord moved me to call him the next day and say, “Yes.” He was the first person to teach me how to study God’s Word.
A few years later there was a man named Tim, again just a few years older, who started to teach me how to share my faith in Jesus with others. He invited me into his home. He invited me to sit on his table. He talked to me about marriage and what it meant to be a godly husband.
A few years later there was a man named Scott, Scott was my age and I said to Scott, “I was thinking about going to seminary but it’s too expensive.” Scott said, “If you go to seminary, I will pay for it.” I said, “Don’t do that.” Scott started sending me money every month until I graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary.
I could keep going. There are still men in my life who are pouring into my life and the prayer for our church family in north Austin is not that we would have somewhere to attend on Sunday morning but that we would come to know Jesus, grow in Jesus, and help others do the same. Won’t you respond?