Once, a well known violinist was asked the secret of her success. Her answer was two simple words: "Planned neglect." She explained that when she began, other things would fill her time until she couldn't take much time with her violin. She would tidy the house, dust, and stay busy with other tasks until time had slipped away and she could only practice for a little while. The day she realized what was happening, though, she turned things around. Since violin was her priority, she started her day with her violin. Then, when she had accomplished that, she would do the other necessary things. Many Christians fill up their time with so many little things, that they never do much for Christ. In Philippians 2:17-24 we see the examples of two men who avoided this trap and put the interests of Christ first. Study the passage to learn more about what it looks like to put the things of Christ first.
Ask the Lord, who wants to reveal His Word to you, to help you understand and apply the Scriptures as you study them today.
Read Focus Verses
Read Philippians 2:17-24 and notice the two examples we're given in this passage.
Read Philippians 2:5-16 - the verses leading up to today's passage - to get a better feel for the background of what is said in today's passage.
Who are the two people that are held up as examples for us in this passage of Scripture?
What does Paul say he would rejoice about in verse 17?
What does he hope in verse 18?
Who does Paul want to send to the Philippians?
Why does he want to send Timothy specifically?
When does Paul want to send him to them?
What does Paul want Timothy to do while he's in Philippi?
What does Paul say makes Timothy different from the rest of the people he could send?
In your own words, what is verse 22 saying?
Key Phrase - Things of Christ
Marking this key phrase in today's passage will help it stand out to you when you return to this passage later.
Mark the phrase things or interests of Jesus Christ in verse 21.
Keyword - Gospel
The word gospel appears six times in chapter 1. Mark it again here in verse 22 to tie it in with the others.
Mark the word gospel in verse 22.
In today's passage, Paul says that he will rejoice if he is poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice of their faith. In the Old Testament, a drink offering was wine that was poured over a sacrifice or offering to the Lord. You can read one of the instructions about them in Exodus 29:38-41.
This is not the only time Paul uses the analogy of a drink offering for his life. In 2 Timothy 4:6-8 he speaks of it again.
Why do you think Paul uses the picture of a drink offering, which was offered with a sacrifice, as a picture of his willingness to give his life in the work of leading others to live for God?
By Life or Death
We saw the same willingness to live or die for the sake of the gospel and magnifying Christ in Philippians 1:20-21.
That I Might Finish
He expressed the same thing to the Ephesian church leaders when he said farewell in Acts 20:22-24.
Notice whose example Paul is following as you look at 1 John 3:16.
Why was Paul willing to give his life for the furtherance of others' faith?
Not Just Paul
In Romans 12:1-2 we see that it isn't just Paul and other ministers like him that are called to live this kind of life that is fully dedicated to God.
Sacrifice of Faith
By looking at Hebrews 13:15-16 we understand better what Paul refers to in verse 17 of today's passage - the sacrifice of a believer's faith.
In many of the Epistles, Paul introduces himself as a servant of Jesus Christ. Philippians is no exception as you'll see looking at Philippians 1:1-2.
In Mark 10:45 we see who set the example of servanthood.
Became a Servant
In Philippians 2:5-11 we see more about Christ's servanthood.
Sacrifice and Service
What does Paul mean when he refers to the sacrifice and service of faith?
Rejoicing in Suffering
This is not the only time Paul says he rejoices in suffering if it furthers the work of Christ. See how he explains this in Colossians 1:23-2:3.
If You Stand Fast
We see the same theme in 1 Thessalonians 3:7-9.
Don't Be Discouraged
In Ephesians 3:1-13 we see Paul again requesting a church not to be discouraged by his suffering but to rejoice in the good God is bringing from it.
For the Gospel
We see further explanation of the reason for this rejoicing in suffering in Philippians 1:12-18.
Why did Paul rejoice in his sufferings and request that others do the same?
Learn a little more about Timothy from this short biography.Click To Visit Website
Paul's concern for the Christians he loved and prayed for is expressed many times through the New Testament. Notice how similar 1 Thessalonians 3:1-8 is to verse 19 of today's passage.
Why was Paul concerned for the wellbeing of these churches and comforted when he knew they were doing well?
A few verses earlier in Philippians 2:1-2 Christians are called to be likeminded. In today's passage we see that Paul and Timothy were an example of that.
What purpose did Paul and Timothy both share, according to today's passage, that made them likeminded?
What are some specific things Paul and Timothy thought similarly about according to today's passage?
Scripture explains why caring for others is a natural outworking of seeking the things of Jesus Christ. Start in Matthew 22:37-40.
Consider 1 John 4:7-12 in this light.
Carrying on Christ's work also has to include the compassion He continually had for those around Him. Read about one time His compassion is highlighted in Matthew 14:14.
Caring for Others
Why do those who seek the things of Christ naturally care for others?
Why is this so rare according to today's passage?
The last days will be characterized by people seeking their own good according to 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
Looking Out for Others
In contrast, Philippians 2:4 calls all Christians to look out for others not just themselves.
The Other's Good
In 1 Corinthians 10:24 we see this call restated.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 shows us that by definition love leads us to look out for others, not ourselves.
Why are God's people not to be self-seeking?
Colossians 3:1-4 sounds very much like today's passage.
We read Philippians 1:20-21 earlier. How was Paul seeking the things of Jesus Christ by his life as expressed in those verses?
Doing God's Will
John 4:34 tells us what Jesus was seeking to do when He was on earth.
Seek and Save
Jesus expressed His mission in Luke 19:10.
Seeking Things of Christ
In light of these verses, what does it mean for a Christian to seek the things of Christ?
What can we learn from the mention that Timothy's humility and love had been proven?
In 1 Corinthians 4:17 Paul refers to Timothy as his beloved son.
Dearly Beloved Son
In 2 Timothy 1:1-2 Paul addresses Timothy as his son.
Paul had no children, Timothy didn't have a believing father, together they made a team that changed the world for Christ. A team which is still impacting us today. How does this shed a new perspective on the relationship challenges you and those you know are facing?
In a Quandary
In Philippians 1:20-26 Paul explains why he thinks it is God's will for him to be granted his freedom (instead of sentenced to death) at his trial.
Reasons to Live
Why did Paul think God's will was for him to live?
What can you learn about how a Christian should think, speak, and prepare for the future from Paul's expectation that he would live while he was waiting to see the outcome of his trial before sending Timothy in verses 23-24?
What are a few things that really stand out to you about these two men held up as examples for us by God in today's passage?
Paul was willing to be a catalyst to the faith of these believers while taking a secondary role - even if it cost his life. How does that example challenge how you think about ministry?
Seeking the Things of Christ
How has God called you through His Word to seek the things of Jesus Christ today? This week?
Is there a situation in your life that you need to trust God's plan like Paul trusted God for the outcome of His trial?
We hope this study has helped you understand better what it looks like to put Christ first in your life and interests and challenged you to do so.
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