May 6: Community Driven
Judges 9:22–10:18; Philippians 2:19–30; Psalm 68:1–14
By default, we flag our own needs as high priority. And we often measure our church community by how well it’s serving our needs. Caught up in our own spiritual growth, we tend to forget that we’re meant to attend to the physical and spiritual needs of others. Paul upholds Timothy and Epaphroditus to the Philippians as examples of what this type of service should look like.
Paul was intent on sending Timothy to the Philippian church because of his discernment and his servant-like heart. In fact Timothy was the only one suited for the task. Others wouldn’t “sincerely be concerned about [the Philippians’] circumstances. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (Phil 2:20–21). Likewise, Paul describes Epaphroditus as a man who suffered to the point of death in order to assist him in his ministry (Phil 2:30).
Both of these men epitomized the natural result of Paul’s commands earlier in his letter: “Do nothing according to selfish ambition or according to empty conceit, but in humility considering one another better than yourselves, each of you not looking out for your own interests, but also each of you for the interests of others” (Phil 2:3–4).
“Considering another individual better” didn’t mean the Philippians had to foster an exaggerated opinion of others—as if they deserved honor. Rather, Paul was instructing them to consider others’ needs ahead of their own. The church in Philippi had this example in Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus. But the original example is found in the person of Christ, who “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8).
Christ’s sacrificial love was first shown undeservedly to us, and His example of humility, obedience, and service is a reminder that we should be looking for ways to serve those around us.
How can you reach out to someone who needs guidance, love or encouragement?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- Then Abimilech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother’s brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family, and house of his mother’s father, saying, Say, I pray you, in the audience of all the men of Shechem, Whether is better for you, that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are seventy persons, reign over you, either that one reignover you? Remember also, that I am your bone, and your flesh. Then his mother’s brethren spake of him in the audience of all the men of Shechem, all these words: and their hearts were moved to follow Abimelech: for said they, He is out brother. And they gave him seventy pieces of siler out of the house of Baal-Berith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light fellows which followed him. And he went unto his father’s house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren, the sons of Jerubbaal, about seventy persons upon one stone: yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left: for he hid himself. And all the men of Shechem gathered together with all the house of Millo, and came and made Abimelech King in the plain, where the stone was erected in Shechem. And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, you men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you. The trees went forth to anoint a King over them, and said unto the Olive tree, Reign thou over us. But the Olive tree said unto them, Should I believe my fatness, wherewith by me they honor God and man, and go to advance me above the trees? Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and be king over us. But the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, whereby I cheer God and man, and go to advance me above the trees? Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. And the bramble said unto the tres, If ye will indeed anoint me king over you, come, and put your trust under my shadow: and if not, the fire shall come out of the bramble, and consume the Cedars of Lebanon. Now therefore, if ye do truly and incorruptly to make Abimelech King, and if ye have dealt well with Jerubbaal and with his house, and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands, (For my father fought for you, and adventured his life, and delivered you out of the hands of Midian. And ye are risen up against my father”s house this day, and have slain his children, about seventy persons upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother.) If ye then have dealt truly and purely with Jerubbaal, and with his house this day, then rejoice ye with Abimelech, and let him rejoice with you. But if not, let a fire come out from Abimelech, and consume the men of Shechem and the house of Millo: also let a fire come forth from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and consume Abimelech. And Jotham ran away, and fled, and went to Beer, and dwelt there fore fear of Abimelech his brother. So Abimelech reigned three years over Israel. But God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech, and the men of Shechem: and the men of Shechem brake their promise to Abimelech, That the cruelty toward the seventy sons of Jerubbaal and their blood might come and be laid upon Abimelech their brother, which had slain them, and upon the men of Shechem, which had aided him to kill his brethren. So the men of Shechem set men in wait for him in the tops of the mountians: who robbed all that passed that way by them: and it was told Abimelech. Then Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brethren, and they went to Shechem: and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him. Therefore they went out into the field, and gathered in their grapes, and trode them, and made merry, and went into the house of their gods, and did eat and drink, and cursed Abimelech. Then Gaal the son of Ebed said, Who is Abimelech? and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerubbaal? and Zebul is his officer? Serve rather the men of Hamor the father of Shechem: for why should we serve him? Now would God this people were under mine hand: then would I put away Abimelech. And he said to Abimelech, Increase thine army, and come out. And when Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his wrath was kindled. Therefore he sent messengers unto Abimelech privily, saying, Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brethren be come to Shechem, and behold, they fortify the city against thee. Now therefore arise by night, thou and the people that is with thee, and lie in wait in the field. And rise early in the morning as soon as the sun is up, and assault the city: and when he and the people that is with him, shall come out against thee, do to him what thou canst. So Abimelech rose up, and all the people that were with him by night: and they lay in wait against Shechem in four bands. Then Gaal the son of Ebed went out, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and Abimelech rose up, and the folk that were with him, from lying in wait. And when Gaal spake again, and said, See, there come folk down by the middle of the land, and another band cometh by the way of the plain of Meonenim. Then said Zebul unto him, Where is now thy mouth that said, Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him? Is not this the people that thou hast despised? Go out now, I pray thee and fight with them. And Gaal went out before the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech. But Abimelech pursued him, and he fled before him, and many were overthrown and wounded even unto the entering of the gate. And Abimelech dwelt at Arumah: and Zebul thrust out Gaal and his brethren that they should not dwell in Shechem. And on the morrow, the people went out into the field: which was told Abimelech. And he took the people, and divided them into three bands, and laid wait in the fields, and looked and behold, the people were come out of the city, and he rose up against them, and smote them. And Abimelech, and the bands that were with him, rushed forward, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and the two other bands ran upon all the people that were in the field, and slew them. And when Abimelech had fought against the cit all that day, he took the city, and slew the people that was therein, and destroyed the city, and sowed salt in it. And when al the men of the tower of Shechem heard it, they entered into an hold of the house of the god of Berith. And it was told Abimelech, that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together. And Abimelech got him up to mount Zalmon, he and all the people that were with him: and Abimelech took axes with him, and cut down boughs of trees, and took them, and bare them on his shoulder, and said unto the folk that were with him, What ye have seen me do, make haste, and do like me. Then all the people also cut down every man his bough, and followed Abimelech, and put them to the hold, and set the hold on fire with them so all the men of the tower of Shechem died also, about a thousand men and women. Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and besieged Thebes, and took it. But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all the thiefs of the city, and shut it to them, and went up to the top of the tower. And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to set it on fire. But a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and brake his brainpan. Then Abimelech called hastily his page that bore his harness, and said unto him, Draw thy sword and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his page thrust him through, and he died. And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed every man unto his own place. Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father in slaying his seventy brethren. Also all the wickedness of the men of Shechem did God bring upon their heads. So upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal. After Abimelech, there arose to defend Israel, Tola, the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar, which dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim. And he judged Israel three and twenty years, and died, and was buried in Shamir. And after him arose Jair a Gileadite, and judged Israel two and twenty years. And he had thirty sons that rode on thirty asscolts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havoth Jair unto this day, and are in the land of Gilead. And Jair died, and was buried in Camon. And the children of Israel wrought wickedness again in the sight of the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtoreth, and the gods of Aram, and the gods of Sidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the Lord and served not him. Therefore the wrath of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon: Who from that year vexed and oppressed the children of Israel eighteen years, even sll the children of Israel were beyond Jordan, in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. Moreover, the children of Ammon went over Jordan to fight against Judah and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim: so that Israel was sore tormented. Then the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, saying, We have sinned against thee, even because we have forsaken our own God, and have served Baal. And the Lord said unto the children o fIsrael, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines? The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites did oppress you, and ye cried to me, and I saved you out of their hands. Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: Wherefore I will deliver you no more. Go, and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen: let them save you in the time of your tribulation. And the children of Israel said unto the Lord, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever please thee: only we pray thee to deliver us this day. Then they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the Lord: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel. Then the children of Ammon gathered themselves together, and pitched in Gilead: and the children of Israel assembled themselves, and pitched in Mizpah. And the people and princes of Gilead said one to another, Whosoever will begin the battle against the children of Ammon, the same shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead. Judges 9:22–10:18
- And I trust in the Lord Jesus, to send Timothy shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man like-minded, who will faithfully care for your matters. For all seek their own, and not that which is 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. Him therefore I hope to send as soon as I know how it will go with me, And I trust int he Lord, that I also myself shall come shortly. But I supposed it necessary to send my brother Epaphroditus unto you my companion in labor, and fellow soldier, even your messenger, and he that ministered unto me such things as I wanted. For he longed after all you, and was full of heaviness, because ye had heard that he had been sick. And no doubt he was sick, very near unto death: but God had mercy on him, and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I sent him therefore the more diligently, that when ye should see him again, ye might rejoice, and I might be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and make much of such: Because that for the work of Christ he was near unto death, and regarded not his life, to fulfill the service which was lacking on your part toward me. Philippians 2:19–30
- God will arise, and his enemies shall be scattered: they also that hate him, shall flee before him. As the smore vanisheth, so shalt thou drive them away: and as wax melteth before the fire, so shall the wicked perish at the presence of God. But the righteous shall be glad, and rejoice before God: yea, they shall leap for joy. Sing unto God, and sing praises unto his name: exalt him that rideth upon the heavens, in his Name Jah, and rejoice before him. He is a Father of the fatherless, and a Judge of the widows, even God in his holy habiration. God maketh the solitary to dwell in families, and delivereth them that were prisoners in stocks: but the rebellious shall dwell in a dry land. O God, when thou wentest forth before the people: when thou wentest through the wilderness, (Selah.) The earth shook, and the heavens dropped at the presence of this God: even Sinai was moved at the presence of God, even the God of Israel. Thou, O God, sentest a gracious rain upon thine inheritance, and thou didst refresh it when it was weary. Thy Congregation dwelled therein: for thou, O God, hast of thy goodness prepared it for the poor. The Lord gave matter to the women to tell of the great army. Kings of the armies did flee: they did flee, and she that remained in the house, divided the spoil. Though ye have lain among pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove that is covered with silver, and whose feathers are like yellow gold. When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was white as the snow in Zalmon. Psalm 68:1–14