What is True Humility?
Did his grandmother and mother call him Timmy? I can imagine his smile if they did. It was probably a shy smile with a little bit of an eye-roll. One of the youngest pastors written about in the New Testament, Timothy was a man who demonstrated many qualities of a good pastor and leader. Although much has been said and read about Timothy, I want to encourage us to look at his life from the perspective of humility.
The first time we see Timothy is in Acts 16. He is described as a believer who was a Jew, but had a Greek father. Timothy’s grandmother and mother raised him in a Christian home, and Timothy made the decision to follow Christ at an early age. Paul mentions Timothy a lot in his letters (Phil 1:1; Col 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1), and we know Paul considered Timothy his son in the faith (Phil 2).
One of my favorite passages about Timothy is in Philippians 2:19-24. In the previous part of chapter two, Paul describes a character trait we as Christians should have: humility. Paul’s example is that of Christ Jesus. The familiar verses stir in us a desire to be humble:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross – Phil. 2:5-8
At first we want to shout: yes! We will follow Christ in his humility. Then we wake up on a weekday with errands, chores, work, and responsibilities. People are difficult, and we don’t want to be a doormat. How does everyday humility really work? Paul gives us an example of someone who demonstrated everyday Christ-like humility: Timothy.
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also – Phil. 2:19-24