Years ago, Ed Goodman, marketing executive of Hallmark Cards, Inc., developed a slogan for the greeting card company. “When you care enough to send the very best.” This slogan has forced Hallmark to maintain a focus on quality over the decades. While the slogan may have been coined by Goodman, it was certainly practiced by the apostle Paul 1900 years before him.
God had used the apostle, you see, to establish churches in locations like Philippi and Thessalonica. Men like Silas and Timothy had been along with him . . . Silas seemingly as a fully vested partner, while Timothy was more of an intern. Their visits to these two regions had been cut short by persecution. Meanwhile, they left fledgling congregations behind.
Driven by concern for the welfare of these churches, Paul not only wrote letters, but he also planned visits. First, he tried repeatedly to make his way back to Thessalonica, but Satan hindered his attempts. Though he yearned to visit his dear friends in Philippi, his Roman imprisonment prevented him. In both instances, his longing to see the churches he had founded was strong, but situations made it impossible.
But even though he couldn’t personally go, he did the next best thing. He sent a representative. This was not just anyone. No, he “cared enough to send the very best,” so he sent Timothy. He sent this young man into whom he had been pouring his life. And, by the time Paul wrote Philippians, Paul said of his disciple, “I have no one else like him” (Phil. 2:20a). Timothy was a one of a kind. He was the best Paul had to offer!
What was it that set Timothy apart from others? What kind of qualities should you seek to develop in yourself and in those whom you are investing? Paul summarizes them in Philippians 2:20, 21 by saying that Timothy “takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” In other words, Timothy was Christ-centered. As such, he had learned to place a higher value on the interests of others than on his own. He had learned the “J-O-Y” principle or priorities . . . Jesus . . . then others . . . then you.
How will you demonstrate that principle today?