Transforming Friendships Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
“A man that has friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24).
17 And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”
“Archippus” is a man who had a gift, and Paul is urging him to use it.
We don’t know any more about him other than what is mentioned here.
The last verse says--
18 This salutation by my own hand—Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen.
This is the second time that Paul says, “Remember my chains”—or “Pray for me.”
As you listen to these names of Paul’s friends, the interesting thing is that Paul had never been to Rome or to Colosse, yet he gives this list of people that he knew, and many of them are from these two cities.
This reveals that Paul had led many people to Christ who returned home to cities that he never was able to reach directly or personally.
His ministry was a tremendous, far-reaching ministry, and that shows that he was a great missionary.
I want to use these verses that I read to make three points about transforming friendships.
They can CHANGE A LIFE, DEVELOP LOYALTY, AND WELD A HEART OF LOVING SERVICE.
FIRST, I'LL MAKE THE POINT THAT A TRANSFORMING FRIENDSHIP CAN CHANGE A LIFE.
Paul refused to write about his personal problems in his public letters.
The bearer of the letter, Tychicus, would fill them in on those details.
With him would be Onesimus, who was described as “a faithful and dear brother” and who was evidentially a native of Colosse.
Onesimus was the slave of Philemon, also of Colosse.
He had stolen something from Philemon and fled to Rome to lose himself among the many people in the streets.
But while there he met someone—Paul—who introduced him to someone else—Jesus Christ.
Now this man who once had been a fugitive slave was going back to Colosse with a letter for the Colossian church, but also with a letter to Philemon from Paul.
In this letter, Paul appealed to Philemon to forgive him, and take him in, and receive him as a Christian brother.
“Profitable” is the meaning of Onesimus’s name.
Before he was introduced to Christ Onesimus had been anything but profitable.
But his friendship with Paul and his new relationship with Jesus had transformed his life, making him profitable, without a doubt.
A friendship can change a life and SECOND, IT CAN ALSO DEVELOP LOYALTY.
Aristarchus, who was a Jew by birth was a native of Thessalonica.
He’s called a “fellow prisoner,” by Paul since he willingly shared the bondage of all believers in Christ.
This man is very important to Paul because not many of Paul’s Jewish friends were sympathetic to his mission to the Gentiles.
Aristarchus is seen three times in the New Testament: during the riot in Ephesus at the temple of Diana when he was captured by the mob (Acts 19:29), and then when Paul sailed as a prisoner to Rome (Acts 27:2), and here with Paul in Rome.
He was a man who stood by Paul in a crisis, always at hand in times of need.
And I find it interesting that he was a member of Philemon’s household; probably his son.
Aristarchus was called by the Lord and had some ministerial responsibility in the church at Colosse.
You can find many examples of loyalty between famous men who lived in America, in the past.
One such relationship developed between two great military leaders during the Civil War.
General Jeb Stuart was the Confederate cavalry commander.
He served as a subordinate to the Confederacy leader, Robert E. Lee.
Each time Stuart wrote a letter to Lee he would close with these words, “Yours to count on, JEB Stuart.”
Although Stuart generally upheld these
words, he failed his leader at Gettysburg when Lee needed him most.
Emory Thomas, a professor of history at the University of Georgia, writes in his book, Robert E. Lee: A Biography, “At Gettysburg, Stuart rode off into nowhere and left Lee blind in the presence of his enemies.”
Faithfulness and friendship go hand in hand.
Can your friends, family, and colleagues always count on you?
Did you know that some interesting relationships are even found in the animal world?
For instance, there is this story about a monkey and a lion.
A group of businessmen was marveling at an unusual zoo exhibit.
In the same cage were a monkey and a lion.
Seeing some possible lessons that might be translated to the business world, one supervisor asked, “How do they get along?”
The zookeeper said, “Usually, okay.” Sometimes they have a disagreement, though, and we have to get a new monkey.”
A friendship can change a life, it can develop loyalty, AND IT CAN ALSO BUILD A LIFE.
Mark is the next name mentioned.
Mark, who was a relative of Barnabus, had set out with Paul and Barnabus, on the first missionary journey but soon he left them and went home to Jerusalem.
And so Paul refused to take him with them on the second missionary journey.
Their mission team broke up, and it was because of Mark.
Later Mark’s life was mended because of friendship.
Now Paul had Mark with him, and he was in a place of difficult service.
Next, there is Barnabas; he was the first to see Christ’s man in Saul of Tarsus.
In fact, He first introduced Paul into the Christian fellowship in Jerusalem when the other Christians were too suspicious and too fearful to meet with him.
And after Paul had been persuaded to go home to Tarsus, where he stayed for quite some time, it was Barnabas who made a special journey to that city and brought Paul back into leadership in the church after years of separation.
A friendship can change a life, it can develop loyalty, it can build a life, AND LASTLY, IT CAN WELD A HEART OF LOVING SERVICE.
Paul mentioned Epaphras, who was likely the founder and pastor of the church at Colosse, as well as those at Hierapolis and Laodicea.
The concern that he had for the people there was obvious as he prayed for them daily that they might live within the will of God.
Luke the beloved physician and Demas are also mentioned.
Demas is mentioned only here, in Philemon, and in 2 Timothy 4:10, where these sad and distressing words appear, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.”
The following verse reads, “Only Luke is with me now.”
Demus and Luke show a contrast in loyalty; one is faithful and the other is not.
The last name listed is Nympha, who offered her home as the meeting place for the church.
And she shared what she had with Paul and others.
Conclusion (I’ll end with this)
Paul did not hesitate to share his needs with others because he depended on their prayer support.
Do you pray for Christian leaders in places of importance?
They need it!
Paul named six men who were working at his side and encouraging him in the Lord.
Even an apostle cannot get the job done alone, and that’s why he was so grateful for the saints serving faithfully in Colosse!
We show friendship to God and others when we serve them faithfully.
We are friends of Christ when we obey what He commands and witness to others of what He has done for us.
And we do all this because Christ showed His love for us by laying down His life for us.