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The Value of Difficulty

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I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me,and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.
(Philippians 2:19-24 ESV)

Paul felt comfortable sending Timothy to the Philippians because of Timothy’s “proven worth”. The Greek word here is δοκιμε (pronounced: dok-ee-may’) which means “tested by experience and shown to be worthy”. This is the same word Paul uses in Romans 5:3-4 for “character produced through endurance and suffering”.

Consumer Reports tests all kinds of products and issues reports on which products are the best – which have the highest quality and are most reliable. According to their website they were founded in 1936 in order to help consumers “distinguish hype from fact and good products from bad ones.”

Timothy was no hype. He had shown himself to be reliable because he handled difficult situations well. He had been tested and Paul knew he could count on him. The Philippians also knew that.

Timothy was a man of character. This doesn’t happen overnight. Just like a cake has to be subjected to heat for a certain amount of time in order to be ready to eat, we need to go through difficult situations in order to develop our character and be usable by God.

Timothy had spent 10 years with Paul travelling around planting churches and being subjected to opposition. Just like a son learns from his father by serving him, Timothy had also learned from Paul through service. Timothy was willing to humble himself and learn under the tutelage of another.

Too many people want to be leaders. We don’t have enough doers. This is because people don’t want to humble themselves. They’d rather have the attention that comes with leadership than the rewards that come with serving. In this letter Paul is admonishing the Philippians to put aside their own selfish desires and clothe themselves in humility and he holds up young Timothy – born and raised in Philippi – as an example.

Our culture tries to avoid hardship and pain at all costs. But this is leading to a population of immature flakes who will cut and run when the going gets tough. Sadly, our leaders have given in like weak parents dealing with whiny children. This will not bode well for the United States in the near future.

God’s children should be different from the world around us. He wants us to be reliable to the point where people know they can count on us no matter what. That only happens by enduring difficult situations.

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