Monday, October 20, 2008

checking for tychicus

We don’t know a whole lot about Tychicus. Luke suggests that he ran with Paul’s inner posse (Acts 20:4), which Paul’s own letters bear witness to. For example, Paul tells Titus that he’s going to send Artemas or Tychicus to him (Tit 3:12). Paul informs Timothy that he’s “sent Tychicus to Ephesus” (2 Tim 4:12). Paul describes Tychicus as a “beloved brother, a faithful minister, and a fellow servant in the Lord” (Col 4:7). And because of this, Paul sends Tychicus to “encourage your hearts” (Eph 6:22). And that’s all we know about Tychicus. Paul sends him to encourage God’s people. Tychicus is an encourager. Two questions for today. First, are you a Tychicus? Second, do you have a Tychicus?

First, every disciple of Jesus is called to be a Tychicus. There are no exceptions. We’re all sent to God’s people, in our unique ways, as encouragers. We’re to “encourage one another and build up each other” (1 Thess 5:11). Far too often, we do just the opposite. We tear one another down – with our words, our silence, our lack of support, our lack of time, our lack of interest. But this “life” of tearing others down (if we can even call that life) is not what Jesus invites us into. As disciples of Jesus, our call is to be “transformed into the same image” as God (2 Cor 3:18). And we worship “the God of … encouragement” (Rom 15:5).

Second, we all need a few Tychicus’ (impossible to pronounce without sounding intoxicated) in our life. Discipleship is a communal affair. If we’re following Jesus alone, I doubt we’re following him at all. And so let us pray for, and actively seek, other disciples to encourage us in our life with God.

That being said, every Christian has the Encourager – not an encourager, but the Encourager. The Greek word translated “encourager” is also translated “helper” and “advocate” and “friend” and “counselor” and “comforter” and “paraclete.” It’s the same word John uses to describe the Spirit of God. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Encourager (parakletos) to be with you forever” (Jn 14:16). This Greek word – parakletos – literally means “one called to the side of.” That’s all an encourager is – one called to our side to support us.

God’s Spirit has been called to our side to encourage us in our life with God. And because we have the Spirit – the Encourager – we can encourage one another and be encouraged by one another. After all, God wants us to be encouraged. “I want their hearts to be encouraged (parakaleo) and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of … Christ himself” (Col 2:2).

FOR TODAY: Be a Tychicus. Give thanks for the Tychicus’ you’ve been given. And remember that the Spirit of God has been called to your side to encourage you. We worship a God of encouragement. And so be encouraged. Be intentional about encouraging one another. Like I said, all we know about Tychicus is that he faithfully encouraged God’s church. May the same be said of each of us when all is said and done.

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