Transforming Friendships Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Title: Transforming Friendships
Text: “Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts,” (Colossians 4:7-8)
Bible Reading: Colossians 4:7-18
Some of our most meaningful relationships are those we have with friends.
We can recall with warm-hearted feelings the hours we have spent together and the joys, sorrows, and experiences we have shared.
The Bible speaks highly of friendships.
For instance, it says in Proverbs 18:24: “A man that has friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24).
A contrast is being made here between those who are friendly only in a social way, and the true friend who stands with you at the most awful times.
The gaining of friends depends upon the ability of a person to demonstrate friendliness toward others.
Anyone who is a friend himself will always meet others who are eager to return his kindness and interest.
Friends, however, will often desert or fail you just when you need them the most.
But, when it happens, it should not lead to having misgivings about others, for there are true friends whose commitments will never waiver.
I ran across this quote by an anonymous author: “The best way to destroy an enemy is to change him into a friend.”
Have you ever done that?
The true friend is rare, and his devotion even surpasses that of a brother by birth.
There is a little poem that I found that describes a true friend.
A faithful friend is a strong protection;
A man who has found one has found a treasure.
A faithful friend is beyond price,
And his value cannot be weighed.
A faithful friend is a life-giving medicine,
Those who fear the Lord will find it.
Friendships help to make life beautiful and enjoyable.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning once asked novelist Charles Kingsly the secret of his life.
He thought for a moment, and then replied, “I had a friend.”
One of the most important things we can do in life is to make friends and cultivate lasting friendships.
When we come to the last Chapter of the letter to the Colossians, we meet a whole host of Paul’s friends who were with him in Rome back there in the first century.
They walked down the Roman roads, lived in Roman cities, and were under Roman rule.
They were in the midst of paganism, but they were God’s children.
Remember, Paul was a prisoner, and it was probably highly dangerous to be his friend.
But these men chose to demonstrate their friendship and loyalty to Paul by staying with him.
Some of these names we can identify immediately—Mark and Luke for instance—but others are not so familiar.
In these names and references, we find a great message: the message of transforming friendships.
Now, I want to read our scripture for today’s lesson; Colossians 4:7-18.
7 Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord will tell you all the news about me.
8 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts,
“Tychicus” was the pastor of the church at Ephesus.
He is mentioned in Ephesians, Acts, and 2 Timothy.
He was a wonderful brother in the Lord.
Paul says here that he sent Tychicus to them for a purpose.
In fact, he has a twofold purpose in sending Tychicus: first, so that he might know your situation, and second so that you might know his situation.
That way they can comfort each other and give each other encouragement.
Verse 9 says--
9 with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all things which are happening here.
“Onesimus” was a slave of Philemon in Colossi.
He had run away from his master, had been led to the Lord through the ministry of Paul, and was now being sent back to his master by Paul.
Paul wrote a letter to Philemon when he sent Onesimus back, and he tells Philemon that Onesimus is his “beloved brother.”
You can see from this that in the
case of Onesimus there is a new relationship in Christ.
In the next verse, we are told about a man named Aristarchus and two others who were important in Paul’s life.
10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him),
Aristarchus was a fellow prisoner with Paul, and he was his friend.
Mark is John Mark, the nephew of Barnabas—the son of his sister.
He is the writer of the gospel of Mark.
You may remember that Mark left Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, and because of this Paul didn’t want to take him along on his second missionary journey.
But Paul was wrong in his judgment of John Mark.
The boy made good and Paul acknowledges that here.
Paul gives the Colossians instructions, “Don’t reject him like I did. You folks receive him.”
Paul mentions John Mark again in his second letter to Timothy: “…Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (2 Tim. 4:11).
The next verse says that Paul wants to see someone else—
11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me.
“Jesus, which is called Justus” would be the name Joshua in the Hebrew language.
“Being of the circumcision” indicates he was Jewish.
This shows us there were a few Israelites in the church at Colosse.
However, there were not many; the Colossian church was mostly Gentile.
But these men were wonderful brethren, helpers of Paul, and great missionaries themselves.
The loneliness of Paul comes out in his comment that, out of all the Jewish Christians in Rome, only Justus, Mark and Aristarchus were his “fellow workers,” and he says, “They have been a comfort to me.”
Verse 12 adds another name to the list--
12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
“Epaphras” was the pastor and probably the founder of the church at Colosse.
Now he is in prison, so he has a new ministry, the ministry of prayer.
I recently had a woman ask me to bring a message about what people who are old and in a Nursing Home can do for the Lord.
The answer is in this verse; they can pray.
Do you want a new ministry; He has something wonderful for you to do, He wants you to intercede on behalf of others.
Verse 13 says--
13 For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis.
These three cities were very close together.
Hierapolis and Laodicea were about 6-10 miles apart; they were both near Colosse, and there were churches in all three places.
Epaphras had evidently carried the gospel to both of these cities and founded churches there.
Next, we read—
14 Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you.
“Luke, the beloved physician.”
Isn’t that a wonderful designation for him?
Luke was probably Paul’s medical advisor, but he was also one of the apostles and a “fellow worker.”
When Paul first mentioned Demus, he called him a fellow worker.
But here he simply says, “and Demus”.
I think this may indicate that Paul isn’t really sure about him at this time.
Later Demus will forsake him, and that was very painful for Paul
Verse 15 adds--
15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.
These cities had great heathen temples, but the Christians met in private homes.
Verse 16 says--
16 Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
Paul said they had “read the epistle from Laodicea.”
He doesn’t say that he had written an epistle to the Laodiceans.
Apparently, the letters of Paul were circulated around and the Laodiceans had read one of them.
There is one more man to meet.
Verse 17 says--
-go to part 2-