The Best Teacher Isn’t Experience

When it comes to Real Joy… you can either learn it the EASY WAY (Part 1) or the hard way…  Learning by example is much better than learning by experience!


** Download the Student Guide HERE.

The Example of Paul (2:12–18)

Wherever there is the submissive mind, there will be sacrifice and service. This was true of Christ (vv. 7–8), Paul (v. 17), Timothy (vv. 21–22), and Epaphroditus (v. 30). The single mind leads to the submissive mind: as we seek to live for Christ, we live for others. How true this was in Paul’s life! The secret? Christians allow God to work in them. The flesh cannot “work up” humility or dedication; this must come from within by the power of the Spirit.

God works in us before He works through us…
He uses the Word (1 Thes. 2:13), the Spirit (Eph. 3:16, 20–21), and prayer.

Paul gives us several pictures of Christians who have the submissive mind. He portrays them as obedient children of God, seeking to honor the Father; as stars shining in a dark world; and as athletes who hold out their batons to the next runner. In vv. 17– 18, Paul describes himself as a drink-offering being poured out on the altar. Where there is the submissive mind, the humble mind, there must be sacrifice and service.

The Example of Timothy (2:19–24)

b1b1_serve_like_jesus_without_verse1Paul called Timothy his “son in the faith” because he had won this lad to Christ. (See Acts 16:1–5; 2 Tim. 1:1–6; 1 Cor. 4:15–17.) Like Paul, Timothy lived for others, not for self. Too many Christians live in the way discussed in Phil. 2:21 instead of that in Phil. 1:21! Timothy was Paul’s helper and representative and had proved himself faithful to the Lord. Though a young man, he knew how to serve Christ and was willing to sacrifice for Him.

Paul did not call Timothy into service right away; he let him stay at home and grow for five or six years. Timothy had a good testimony of service at home when Paul added him to his missionary staff (Acts 16:2; 1 Tim. 3:6–7). It is dangerous to give new Christians important tasks right away.

The Example of Epaphroditus (2:25–30)

A. He was a balanced Christian (v. 25).

He was a brother, which means he knew the fellowship of the Gospel; a companion in labor, which tied him to the furtherance of the Gospel; and a fellow soldier, which means he knew how to battle for the faith of the Gospel. How easy it is for Christians to get out of balance! Some Christians think only of the fellowship, the brotherhood, and have no time to win souls or fight the enemy. Others are so wrapped up in service that they forget fellowship. This was the mistake Martha made (Luke 10:38–42). Still others are always fighting, so much so that they neglect fellowship and service. We need to be balanced Christians.

B. He was a burdened Christian (vv. 26–27).

He had the submissive mind and thought of others, not self. Though he was sick, and almost died, his burden was for Paul and the church back at Philippi. We need more Christians who are burdened not only for foreign missions, but also for their own local churches.

C. He was a blessed Christian (vv. 28–30).

What a blessing Epaphroditus was to Paul! How he must have encouraged Paul in those difficult days as they prayed and labored together. He was also a blessing to his own church. He made it possible for the Philippians to share in Paul’s important ministry. Moreover, Epaphroditus is a blessing to us today! Here we are, centuries later, studying his character and benefiting from his life and ministry!

Faithful servants of Christ ought to be honored in the right way. “Receive him in the Lord” is Paul’s admonition. See 1 Thes. 5:12–13. “Hold such in reputation” (v. 29) in no way contradicts 2:7, “made Himself of no reputation.” The phrase in 2:7 literally means that Christ emptied Himself. Paul told the church to show proper honor to their leader because he “gambled his life” (v. 30, “not regarding his life”) for their service to Paul.

How different it is for us to exercise the submissive mind, the mind of Christ! Walking by sight as we do, we think that to humble ourselves means to lose; yet the Word teaches that the only way up is down. Christ had the submissive mind, and God highly exalted Him. Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus had the submissive mind, and they were honored for their sacrifice and service. The best way to get the victory over people and pride is through the submissive mind, the mind of Christ. And we receive this mind only as we allow the Spirit and the Word to work in our lives (vv. 12–13).

Study Questions:

1) How are these lessons helping you learn joy the easy way (by example) instead of the hard way (by experience)?

  1. What is said about God working in the Christian? (13)- He works in us both the desire and the power to do… for His good __________
  2. According to v14-15, what is a major way that we can witness of God’s power in us?- Doing things without ______________ (complaining) or ______________ (arguing) Is there ever a good reason to complain? Is anything ever worth an argument?
    How should we handle it in the right way? Read Colossians 3:12-14.
  3. How did Paul view his imprisonment? (17)- As being poured out as a drink offering on the ____________ of their faith – As a good reason to be glad and ___________
  4. Verses 20-21 reveal a dark place… loneliness.- What was at the root of why Paul was alone?

6) What is said about Timothy? (22)

– He had proven character, having served with Paul as a son in the faith Why are like-minded Christian friends so important?

7) Write the four titles given to Epaphroditus in the first row (v25):

– __________________ – __________________ – __________________- __________________

– __________________ – __________________ – __________________ – __________________

Write the names of the people who represent these titles to you in your walk with God below.

8) Our lesson says: “The only way up is down.”

Is this Biblical? Is the opposite true?

9) What is the main take-away for you out of this lesson?

More in this Series:

Chapter 1 – Overcoming Unhappiness  …  Joy-stealer: Circumstances
The Gospel is the Key to the Single Mind  Part 1 / Part 2

Chapter 2 – Learning the Easy Way  …  Joy-stealer: Relationships
Four Examples of the Submissive Mind  Part 1 / Part 2

Chapter 3 – Don’t Let Stuff Steal Your Joy  …  Joy-stealer: Possessions
The Past, Present, & Future of the Spiritual Mind  Part 1 / Part 2

Chapter 4 – Why Worry?  …  Joy-stealer: Anxiety & Fear
Experiencing the Peace of the Secure Mind  Part 1 / Part 2

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