September 12

Asking Friends For Help

“Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.” (2 Timothy 4:9-13)

Have you ever been on a team for sports, work, or any competition? If you have you know that there are times when the captain or leader has to bark out orders for other team members. Following his instructions may lead to a win if the circumstances are right. However, if even one member of the team refuses to participate, everyone will lose. Individuals may be called out for their speed, timing, positioning for receptions, batting, etc., and they are often rebuked for the harm they did, racking up fouls that count against the entire team, not just the individuals. Paul has a group of trusted and beloved Christian missionaries that he has agreed to travel with to start church plants. However, in Phillipe where he founded the church, the congregation was in better shape than most others, doctrinally. And Paul did not want to lose the momentum that was helping the Philippians. He was more personal with them because he was a partner with them—removed to another part of the world— but still a partner. The believers in Philippe continued to send Paul money for his support, and they all rejoiced together in their mutual mission.

“Yet Paul’s purpose in writing goes even further. He is concerned that the Philippians continue to make progress in their faith (1:25). While there were no doubt conflicts within the congregation (notably that of Euodia and Syntyche, 4:2), the Philippians appear to be a healthy congregation, in contrast to the troubled groups in Corinth and Galatia. Can they then relax and rest? Paul’s answer is an emphatic no. The world is too perilous, and the gospel too glorious, for them to be content with past achievements (3:12–16). They must follow Paul’s example and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (3:14).” (1) Paul needed his friend to help with such a big mission.

Paul also wants to see Timothy one last time before he departs the world. (2) Demus may have become frightened by Paul’s prospects. The fact that Paul speaks out about Jesus Christ gets him in continual hot water. Demus seems to like things a little safer, less dangerous, more comfortable, like his former home in Thessalonica. At least there an apostle (such as Paul) wasn’t stirring things up in the church; Demus abandoned Paul spiritually more than physically. Luke was always by Paul’s side, and now it seems that Paul has fully reconciled with Mark who had abandoned him earlier. So he suggests that Timothy bring Mark along with him when he comes. Perhaps Mark will take Tychicus’s place since Paul decided to send Tychicus Ephesus. In any case, Paul was asking for at least three apostles to be with him in Philippi: Luke, Timothy, and Mark. We could look at these men like sports teams, Paul leading Luke, Mark, Timothy, and all the teachers at the school. Perhaps as their leader, Paul was assigning roles to help the Philippians maintain their Christian edge, rejoicing in the Spirit of God.

Do you or your children belong to a sports team? It’s a great way to develop interdependence and cooperation. The same happens on well-functioning work teams. People have their positions and goals, but sometimes (or in sports, always) need help to realize their goals and objective, so they ask for help. Why wouldn’t we ask for help when we need it? Would a soccer player play soccer without asking someone for a ball? Would a car sales associate try to sell a car without knowing how much he can negotiate? Would a man try to buy a house he saw without finding the seller or their agent? Of course not! So why, when we have personal needs, do we think we shouldn’t ask for help from our friends? Good friends are eager to pitch in if you ask and I bet you will help them, too, so let’s ask for the help we need.

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