Philippians 2:19 – 22 “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But 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.”
We have two apple trees in our front yard. This past spring, only one of them produced healthy, edible apples. The other one had some kind of fungus, and it did not produce much fruit. The fruit it did produce was spotted and oddly shaped. Not even the deer would eat those sick apples! The unhealthy tree didn’t produce edible fruit. The healthy tree produced many fat, tasty apples, and we had to compete with the deer to harvest the fruit!
Healthy things reproduce.
Probably ten years before Paul penned these words, he had led a young man named Timothy to the Lord. Timothy’s mother was Jewish, and his father was Greek. Since the time of his conversion, Timothy had worked closely with Paul, and truly became Paul’s son in the faith.
Because of his mixed background, Timothy was uniquely qualified to work with Paul. His mother and grandmother had educated him from childhood in the scriptures, and his father had seen that he was educated in Greek studies. Paul had discipled and mentored this young man, had trained him and shaped him to carry on the work of the gospel. He recommended Timothy with the highest praise, for he knew him as a father knows a son.
I fear that mentoring has become a lost art. As young Christians, we should seek older, wiser Christians, and place ourselves under their training. As mature Christians, we should seek out those who are younger, those who are less mature, and offer them our experience. We should seek to win others to Christ, and then we need to disciple them. If we are to pass the torch of Christianity into capable hands, we must take responsibility to make sure those hands are capable!
At the end of my life, I hope I am not like that sick tree in my front yard. Instead, I want to look back on my life and claim many daughters and sons in the faith, who will in turn produce daughters and sons in the faith. Like Paul, I want to be healthy, and leave behind mature disciples who will carry on the work of Christ.
Dear Father, Thank you for those who have taken the time to teach me to love you and serve you. Help me to continue the cycle, and teach those who come behind me.