Philippians 2:12-30

Shine Like Stars

Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.  Philippians 2:13-14

Everybody needs a role model. In Philippians 2:5-8, Paul held up Jesus Christ as the ultimate example of the person God intends each of us to be. That’s daunting, isn’t it?

Maybe Paul thought so too. In the following verses, he gave the Philippians three other role models—imperfect people who demonstrated the Christ-like characteristics that made them shine like stars.

Paul first named himself. The Philippians knew what the apostle had suffered to bring them the gospel—he had been falsely accused, beaten, and imprisoned (Acts 16:11-40). He had been “poured out like a drink offering” for them in the past (Phil. 2:17). His Roman imprisonment also showed his willingness to face any indignity or discomfort so others could hear the gospel.

Second, Paul mentioned Timothy, who ministered with Paul in many cities, including Berea, Athens, Thessalonica, Corinth, and Ephesus. One of Timothy’s first trips was to Philippi. Some scholars believe Paul left Timothy there to nurture the young church. “I have no one else,” Paul says, “who takes a genuine interest in your welfare” (v. 20).

Epaphroditus also modeled Jesus. The Philippians had sent him to minister to Paul. In Rome, Epaphroditus had become gravely ill, and he “almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me” (v. 29). When he recovered, he carried Paul’s letter back to Philippi and continued to minister there.

Timothy and Epaphroditus devoted themselves to what others may have considered menial – encouraging others and taking care of Paul’s needs. They also embraced the humbling work of helping the apostle plant and nurture churches.

We too have been called to embrace the humbling work of nurturing God’s family in our homes, workplaces, churches, and communities. We can aspire to be a Timothy—taking a genuine interest in others’ well-being (v. 20). We can aspire to be an Epaprhoditus—taking care of others’ needs (v. 25). God may ask us to be a Paul and suffer indignities, perhaps even imprisonment, for His sake.

Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus became shining stars in God’s universe because they emptied themselves of pride and allowed Jesus to fill them with His radiant humility. Will we choose to follow their example?

DIG DEEPER:

What did Paul mean when he said “work out your salvation” in Philippians 2:12? Read verse 13, then Romans 5:1-5 and 2 Peter 1:2-8.

When Paul compared himself to “a drink offering” in Philippians 2:17, he was referring to a sacrificial offering described in Numbers 15:1-10. Why do you think Paul used that comparison?

To learn more about Timothy, read Acts 16:1-4, 1 Corinthians 4:17, and 2 Timothy 1:2-10. What does Paul challenge Timothy (and us) to do in 2 Timothy 1:8-9?

Denise K. Loock

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