Self-Surrender: Part 3

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Philippians 2
Then, again, look at Paul’s son, Timothy. Hearken to the glowing testimony borne to him by the pen of inspiration.
“But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.” (Phil. 2:19-2219But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. 20For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. 21For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. 22But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. (Philippians 2:19‑22)).
Here was self-surrender. Timothy naturally cared for the saints; and that, too, at a moment when all sought their own things. And yet, dear as Timothy was to Paul’s heart – valuable as such a self-denying servant must have been to him in the work of the gospel, he was willing to part with him for the sake of the church. Timothy, likewise, was willing to be separated from his invaluable friend and father in the faith, in order to ease his anxious mind in reference to the state of the Philippians. This was indeed giving “proof” of real devotedness and self-surrender. Timothy did not talk of these things; he practiced them. He did not make a parade of his doings; but Paul, by the Holy Spirit, engraved them on a tablet from which they can never be erased. This was infinitely better.
Let another praise thee, and not thyself. Timothy made nothing of himself, but Paul made a great deal of him. This is divine. The sure way to get up is to go down. Such is the law of the heavenly road.
A man who makes much of himself saves others the trouble of doing so. There is no possible use in two persons doing the same thing.
Self-importance is a noxious weed nowhere to be found in the entire range of the new creation. It is, alas! often found in the ways of those who profess to belong to that blessed and holy creation; but it is not of heavenly growth. It is of fallen nature – a weed that grows luxuriantly in the soil of this world.
The men of this age think it laudable to push and make way for themselves. A hustling, self-important, pretentious style takes with the children of this generation. But our heavenly Master was the direct opposite of all this. He who made the worlds, stooped to wash a disciple’s feet (John 13); and if we are like Him we shall do the same.
There is nothing more foreign to the thoughts of God, the mind of heaven, the spirit of Jesus, than self-importance and self-occupation. And, on the other hand, there is nothing that savors so of God, of heaven, and of Jesus, as self-surrender.
Look, once more, reader, at our picture in Philippians 2. Examine, with special care, that figure which occupies a very prominent place. It is Epaphroditus. Who was he? Was he a great preacher – a very eloquent speaker – a pre-eminently gifted brother? We are not told. But this we are told – and told right powerfully and touchingly; he was one who exhibited a lovely spirit of self-surrender. This is better than all the gifts and eloquence, power and learning, that could possibly be concentrated in any single individual. Epaphroditus was one of that illustrious class who seek to make nothing of themselves; and, as a consequence, the inspired Apostle spares no pains to exalt him. Hear how he expatiates upon the actings of this singularly attractive personage.
“Yet I supposed it necessary to send unto you Epaphroditus, my brother and companion in labor, and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.”
What a cluster of dignities! What a brilliant array of titles! How little did this dear and unpretending servant of Christ imagine that he was to have such a monument erected to his memory! But the Lord will never suffer the fruits of self-sacrifice to wither, nor the name of the self-emptied to sink into oblivion. Hence it is that the name of one who, otherwise, might never have been heard of, shines on the page of inspiration, as the brother, companion, and fellow soldier of the great apostle of the Gentiles.
But what did this remarkable man do? Did he spend a princely fortune in the cause of Christ? We are not told; but we are told what is far better – he spent himself. This is the grand point for us to seize and ponder. It was not the surrender of his fortune, merely, but the surrender of himself. Let us hearken
to the record concerning one of the true David’s mighty men.
“He longed after you all, and was full of heaviness.” Why? Was it because he was sick? because of his pains, and aches, and privations? Nothing of the sort. Epaphroditus did not belong to the generation of whiners and complainers. He was thinking of others.
“He was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.” How lovely!
He was occupied about the Philippians and their sorrow about him. The only thing that affected him in his illness was the thought of how it would affect them. Perfectly exquisite! This honored servant of Christ had brought himself to death’s door to serve others, and when there, in place of being occupied about himself and his ailments, he was thinking of the sorrow of others.
“He was sick and nigh unto death; but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.”
Can aught be more morally beautiful than this? It is one of the rarest pictures ever presented to the human eye. There is Epaphroditus, nigh unto death for the sake of others; but he is full of sorrow about the Philippians; and the Philippians are full of sorrow about him: Paul is full of sorrow about both, and God comes and mingles Himself with the scene, and, in mercy to all, raises up the loved one from the bed of death.
And then mark the tender solicitude of the blessed Apostle. It is like some tender mother sending her darling son away, and committing him, with fond earnestness, to the care of some friend.
“I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation.’ Why? Was it because of his gifts, his rank, or his wealth? No; but because of his self-surrender.
“Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.”
O! dear Christian reader, let us think on these things. We have introduced you to a picture, and we leave you to gaze upon it. The grouping is divine. There is a moral line running through the entire scene, and linking the figures into one striking group. It is like the anointing of the true Aaron, and the oil flowing down to the skirts of his garments.
We have the blessed Lord, perfect in His self-surrender, as in all beside; and then we have Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus, each in his measure, exhibiting the rare and lovely grace of self-surrender.