In Philippians 2:19, Paul makes a very interesting comment where he compares Timothy’s ministry motivation with the ministry motivation of others.
“I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel” (Philippians 2:19-22).
Paul uses two descriptors for Timothy. First, that he takes a genuine interest in the welfare of the Philippians – that is he really cared about them and their welfare. And then Paul contrasts that with the majority of people when he adds, “For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” That is a sobering statement! Are we like Timothy who takes a genuine interest in the welfare of others or like the majority who look primarily after their own interests?
The proof, says Paul has been Timothy’s partnership with Paul in the work of the gospel. Timothy has a track record of faithful ministry to others and a genuine interest in their spiritual welfare, and he was willing to serve under Paul as a young minister – a mark of followership and humility – rather than to carve out a name and a place for himself.
The ministry world is full of people who are carving out names for themselves and under the guise of “ministry” are actually looking after their own interests, pursing their own dreams and doing their own thing rather than working under or with others for the spread of the gospel. And when it comes down to basic motivations it is really about them not others! Paul nails their motivation when he says they are not looking after the interests of Jesus Christ.
Paul’s comments cause me to ask myself today. What is my motivation? Is it “genuine” like Timothy’s or is it more about me than Him. Whose interests am I really looking after? The answer is often not how it looks on the outside but the motivation from the inside.