We Need Each Other
Read Colossians 4:7-9 (ESV)
Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.
Who are your “fellow servants in the Lord”? How do they encourage your hearts?
You’ve likely heard the saying, “No man is an island.” As Christians, this principle certainly applies to us. None of us stand alone. We rely on each other. And that is a great encouragement to me!
In today’s verses, Paul mentioned two of the men God placed alongside him to be partners in ministry. The first man, Tychicus, was also mentioned in Acts 20:4 as among those who traveled with Paul and did ministry alongside him. During Paul’s imprisonment, Tychicus did not desert him even though maintaining an association with Paul was no doubt dangerous for him. Paul trusted Tychicus with the task of delivering the letters to the Ephesian (Ephesians 6:21) and Colossian churches, as well as a personal letter to Philemon.
The purpose of the letter to Philemon was regarding the second man mentioned in today’s passage, Onesimus. Onesimus was a run-away slave and his master was Philemon. While Paul was ministering in Rome, Onesimus accepted Christ and Paul urged him to return to his master. If you remember from last week, the Bible does not advocate for slavery. But because it was a reality in society at that time, Paul told slaves to obey their masters and masters to be just and fair with their slaves. Slave owners were to remember that they have a Master in heaven (Colossians 3:22-4:1).
Paul wrote a letter asking Philemon to accept Onesimus back into his household and offer him forgiveness. He sent this letter with Tychicus and Onesimus to deliver to Philemon. Now that Onesimus was a new creation in Christ, Paul considered him to be a brother in Christ. In fact, he appealed to Philemon, who was also a believer in Christ, to accept him back as family: “For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.” That is the power of the Gospel. A slave becomes a brother.
This verse also shows you Paul’s heart towards those he labored in ministry alongside. He didn’t consider them to be co-workers, he regarded them as family. Even though he was an apostle with great influence, he didn’t consider himself to be of greater importance than them. Instead, they were his “fellows.” Merriam-webster says a “fellow” is “an equal in rank, power, or character: a peer.”
Friends, we need the other believers around us. We were meant to work together, not separately. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
Who do you minister side by side with? Have you ever told them how much you appreciate them? Have you thanked God for them and remembered them in prayer? If not, I encourage you to do that today. We weren’t meant to serve God alone. We need each other.
Lord, thank You for my fellow servants in You. They are my brothers and sisters. They are a great encouragement to me and they spur me on. Help me to be a faithful friend and brother or sister in Christ to the believers around me. Amen.