Phil. 2 19I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. 21For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22But 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. 23I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
25But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, 30because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.
I hope I don’t seem like a broken record repeatedly recommending sermons. But the Lord has used this particular sermon series from Philippians to draw me to Himself again and again. In this sermon from Phil. 2, the pastor deals with the characteristics of good shepherds, those leaders in our lives serving under the One Good Shepherd ministering His gospel to us. First, he points out how we all long for spiritual parents to speak into our lives. No one’s problem is that they don’t want guidance. No one wants to be an orphan. The problem is that we’ve been burned by leaders and therefore we don’t know who to trust and then close ourselves off to our need for someone to speak into our lives. Pastor Haralson makes two good points here. First, God’s good undershepherds are recognized by their humility, not their giftedness. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Beware the shepherd whose personal burdens and needs drive the agenda or eclipse the needs of the sheep. When the needs of the sheep must submit to the needs of the shepherd, this is not leadership like Christ (or Paul or Timothy or Epaphroditis). Second, when God has brought the humble undershepherd into your life, like Paul’s words of Epaphroditus, welcome them with joy and receive them with honor. The imperfect but humble undershepherd still exists! God didn’t abandon us to only poor leaders after Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus passed on. And it is to our BENEFIT not detriment to receive them and honor them in the name of Christ.