Kindred Spirits

As a blessing to the Philippians, Paul sends to them two men whom he considers kindred spirits: Timothy and Epaphroditus. Timothy’s trip is short term. Paul sends him as a liaison to comfort the Philippians on Paul’s status and to report back to Paul on the Philippians’ status:

But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.  (Philippians 2:19)

He sends Timothy with the highest commendation he can think of by telling the Philippians: “I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state” (2:20). It is high praise that Paul couples with a heavy heart because, like Christ, not all whom Paul discipled stayed faithful: “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s” (2:21). The fact is, many of those that God gives us to disciple can turn out to be heartbreaking disappointments. This realization could have left Paul a bitter and disillusioned man, but the apostle recognized that for the many disappointments you might encounter, there is always the potential that you will come across a Timothy who has more than a shared interest; he has a shared burden. Why is that important? Because a shared interest can fade in the absence of others. If Timothy only had a shared interest in what Paul was doing, that could have faded with Paul’s passing. But as the apostle notes, Timothy had more than a shared interest. He had the same vision and it was personal to him which is why he naturally cared for the Philippians’ state. He understood that what was at stake was more than his friendship with Paul. This was for the sake and the spread of the gospel and that permeated everything that Timothy did.

Fortunately for Paul and for the Philippians there was another associate he had who was equally burdened for them and he was one of their number: Epaphroditus. He would travel with Timothy to Philippi and would stay once he got there. That Epaphroditus was completely committed to the service of the Philippians is evident in his response when they learned he was sick:

For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.  (Philippians 2:26)

His concern was not for his own needs, or even for his own recovery. He was concerned because his illness caused the people back home unnecessary worry. Like Timothy, he did not care for himself. He cared more for the work of the ministry (v. 30). Paul tells the Philippians to “hold such in reputation” (v. 29) because he understood how rare it is in the work of the ministry to find people who are kindred spirits.

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