You know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.
Paul chose Timothy because he had a proven track record. In Philippians 2:22, he described Timothy to the Philippian church: “You know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.” Timothy was no novice convert. He was saved on Paul’s first missionary journey, but Paul didn’t invite him at that point to join him. He waited until Timothy had matured in his faith. Frankly, many of the problems in churches today can be traced to a violation of this principle. Many churches are too quick to put men and women into service before they’re ready. They’re not ready to serve as a teacher of the Word. They’re not ready to serve as a deacon, elder, or pastor. But churches put in a novice convert, and there’s a problem.
I read about an entertainer who had supposedly had a dramatic conversion experience. He wanted to travel the country sharing his testimony. His pastor wisely advised him, “Don’t do that yet. Get discipled by somebody, study the Word of God, then you can go share with others.” But the entertainer ignored his pastor’s advice and went on the speaking circuit. He ended up divorcing his wife and eventually fell away from the faith. Later, his pastor said the problem was that his branches went out further than his roots went deep. And when that happens, you’re destined to topple. That was not the case with Timothy. Timothy had a proven track record, and that’s why Paul enlisted him for service.
In verses 23 and 24, we see another key of Timothy’s spiritual maturity. Timothy had the right mentor in the apostle Paul. Paul said, “I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me; and I trust in the Lord that I myself also will be coming shortly.” Paul didn’t know the outcome of his trial, but he hoped to send Timothy to them. Somebody has said, “God’s will most of the time is best seen in the rearview mirror.” It’s only after you go through an experience can you look back and say, “This was the will of God.” Paul was saying, “I don’t know whether I’m going to live or die, but my happiness doesn’t depend upon the outcome. I’m trusting in the Lord.” A sign of real spiritual maturity is the ability to retain your joy in spite of an uncertain future.
You may be struggling with keeping your joy. There is some unknown out there in your immediate future. God’s Word promises, “I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, in paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them and rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, and I will not leave them undone” (Isaiah 42:16). Timothy and Paul staked their lives on that promise. And because of that, they are mentioned as heroes of the faith.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Heroes” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.
Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.