My self confidence as a child was next to nothing. I was always picked last for games at recess, and I was often teased for being plumper than the other girls. It didn’t matter that my parents were proud of me or that teachers liked me. I never felt like I was good enough. My first husband added to that insecurity with his abuse and harsh words. Paul’s words truly liberate me, even today.
We don’t have to stress out about our own abilities. It is in Christ we can have all the confidence we need. He will never let us down. Paul reminds his audience of all he had done, but still his humility shines through. He acknowledges even he was nothing without Christ. The same is true for us. Whether we are popular or not, our value lies in our connection to Jesus.
What does it mean to be like Timothy? Paul tells us Timothy “genuinely cares” about people and how they are getting along. He has the heart of a servant and has walked alongside Paul while preaching the Good News. Can you imagine how amazing that would have been to spend time with Paul?
Paul has seen a lot in his life, both before and after his conversion in Acts. For him to have such high praise and confidence in Timothy speaks very well for his young protégé.
Why do you do what you do? If you’re thinking of your occupation, there has to be a “back story.” Why did you choose that career? If you’re thinking about the choices you make in your free time, chances are good you have a reason for those, too.
Then there are the parts of our lives that seem to be on autopilot. For instance, I don’t remember a lot about brushing my teeth this morning, but I know I did.
Yes. Yes. Yes. And, yes! I would say those are my answers to Paul’s first four questions. He seems to be urging his friends into spiritual unity. When we can all work together, caring for others and putting others first, we move closer to becoming more like Jesus. Selfish behavior can ruin a church while humility can restore and rebuild. Think about a situation in your church or community where grace and respect would have been the better answer.
Read these “warning” words from Paul again, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” If you’re like me, you immediately pictured yourself in the “reprimand.” Now read this message again and picture Jesus and how he lived and interacted with others. How cool is that? Jesus totally lived out these words!
In this short reading, Paul reveals several challenges we face in how we are living our lives. At first, I couldn’t help remembering how we all scurried around the house on a Sunday morning so we could all look our best at church. Then there were the repeated reminders to “be on your best behavior.” These days, it seems anything goes in terms of attire at church, and that’s okay because God can see our hearts.
So, what does Paul mean then by “conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.” What does that mean to you? Thankfully, Paul does give us a few clues to help us sort that out.