19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. 23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. 24 But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.
25 Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; 26 since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. 29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; 30 because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me. (Philippians 2:19-30, NKJV)
Sunday, October 4, 2015
These last few months I’ve been immersed in full-time care of my mother. The first weeks were spent trying to establish a routine, figuring out her medicines and meals and what I could do to help her regain as much strength as possible. In the meantime, this passage of Philippians rattled around in my head, as I puzzled over the mention of a man who went to such lengths to aid Paul in his ministry that he endangered his own health.
I mean, who does that? And how on earth is it honoring to God to run ourselves into the ground while caring for others?
... as I battled first a three-day viral sore throat, and then later discovered I’d developed a bladder infection. But I pressed on through all the not-feeling-great, because my mother’s needs were more pressing, more immediate than mine.
Lord, this is not the way I want you to show me what this passage is about.
I’d already been thinking about Paul’s term likeminded and how he applies it, not to sameness of personal conviction, but sameness of care, of love.
Though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13)
Do we catch that? Likemindedness is not about mode of dress or style of music or how we choose to educate our children! It’s about how well we love. And Paul said he had no one like Timothy who genuinely cared about a particular group of people as he did.
Now, weeks after the heart attack and small strokes that made it necessary to find my mother rehab care, I’m still puzzling over it. We had some very tender moments—but then we had just as many that were decidedly NOT tender.
In fact, there were more tough moments than not.
I think again of Paul and the bigness of feeling that he must have held for the people to whom he was writing these words ... and then it occurs to me ... it isn’t about the feeling. It’s about the actions.
We hear that, all our lives, how love is not a feeling but an act of the will. And for the first time, I understand.
I served my Mom, tended her, put up with the difficulties, because ... it was the right thing to do. I love her, despite the frustrations and tears and having to watch the woman I knew and admired slowly fade. More importantly, I love God, and I was committed to doing what was necessary to honor her and thus Him. Though I know our commitment to God takes many forms, and the exact path looks different for all of us, I found it keenly ironic that I had no words for this particular section of Philippians until I walked through it on my own.
Funny how God's Word--and life--is often like that.