Are you ever tired and frustrated and feel like no one understands? Or maybe you are lonely and discouraged and it feels like no one notices you or really cares, but then one friend reaches out and is genuinely concerned for your welfare! That friend is an immeasurable gift! What would it mean for us to be this kind of person for others?
Timothy was that kind of person in Paul’s ministry. Paul wrote this to the Philippians:
Timothy stood out. It’s hard to imagine that there really wasn’t anyone else who cared, but Timothy definitely stood out – there was ‘no one like him.’ What made the difference? Well, apparently everyone else was seeking their own interests. It seems Paul is talking about other Christians; and yet, they were all caught up in their own stuff. But not Timothy. He saw, he noticed, he cared about people and their needs. He was genuinely concerned for others! Timothy is living out the Christlike principle Paul wrote about earlier:
Now of course, someone could take the concept of “counting others more significant than yourself” too far and just live their whole life as a people-pleaser. You could – out of a desire to be genuinely concerned for others – completely neglect your own needs, but then you wouldn’t be doing anyone any good! That’s why a Christian is instructed to “look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
To truly serve others and consider their interests means that we don’t do whatever they want. We always have to honor God and his desires for others. That’s why Paul says, “I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved” (1 Cor. 10:31-33). We don’t live for our own advantage; we live with a desire to serve and please others. But this genuine concern for the welfare of others is so “that they may be saved.” If we are genuinely concerned for the welfare of others, it means we don’t just keep their immediate needs in mind, but their eternal needs as well.
Living with genuine concern for the welfare of others doesn’t usurp our primary calling to honor God. Even when we orient our time and energy toward the interests of others, we are doing it all “not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts” (1 Thes. 2:4). (For more on this point, see this post on Pleasing God.)
The beautiful reality is that genuine concern for others actually seeks the interests of Jesus Christ, and seeking the interests of Jesus Christ means genuine concern for others. Look back at what Paul says about Timothy’s example:
Most people seek their own interests. It is our natural instinct. But when our hearts have been transformed by the Spirit of God, we start to care about others. When we call Jesus Lord and Savior, and live for his interests, that means we are enabled to live with genuine concern for our friends, family, the church, and the community around us.
Because of what God has done in you, you can be that kind of person for others.