1. Philippians 2:20–21 (ESV)
  2. Application

Living as concerned for the welfare of others

Philippians 2:20–21 (ESV)

20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.

Paul contrasts Timothy with others. We do not know exactly who they are here. It is a generalization. It would include the preachers back in Philippians 1:15–18 who preach Christ out of selfish ambition, but it seems that Paul is thinking more broadly than just them. So who else is in view here? One commentator argues that Paul is sadly describing the Christians Paul knew. In general, they put their own interests first, instead of those of Jesus Christ’s.1 Perhaps we think this is a gross generalization on the part of this commentator. But it does flow from what Paul said about Timothy: There is no one like him. Does that not suggest that the Christians Paul knew are generally not like Timothy?

Either way, this ought to give us pause for reflection. If Paul were here among us, would his statement be a gross generalization or sadly true? Would he find more than one Timothy among us? Would you be one of them? Are you genuinely concerned for the welfare of others? Do you seek the interests of Christ and put them before and above your own?

If you are honestly more like Timothy than the rest of us, praise the Lord! May the Spirit’s work in your life humble and lead you to continue to work out your salvation in this way, ever relying on God’s grace. If the generalization is sadly true of you—and I am inclined to think that most of us are in this boat—may we not despair! God is good and gracious. There is hope for complainers and grumblers like us, for self-seeking individuals like us. Jesus bled. Jesus died. Our God has washed our selfishness and sin away through the sacrifice of his dear Son! And God, who began a good work in us, is now at work in us by his Spirit, slowly making us more slowly making us more like Timothy and less like the crooked world we live in and by nature are drawn to. So do not despair. Abide in Christ. Trust him to prune your branches and so enable to you bear much fruit, fruit that will last to all eternity (John 15:1–27).