BE GOD’S MESSENGERS READY TO BRING COMFORT
By Pastor Paulus Budiono
Lemah Putro, Monday, December 31, 2018
At the New Year’s Eve service, we typically look forward to scriptural verses that give us strength and guarantee us security to step into the new year just ahead of us. We have evaluated our activities throughout the year 2018 and have made resolutions to do things better in 2019.
What was the Apostle Paul’s advice before leaving the Ephesian believers for good due to the impending execution? “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6: 10). His advice also applies to us.
Without realizing it, we have been studying the Epistle of the Ephesians through all the year 2018. This Epistle requires that we take up the whole armor of God without taking off any part of it to confront the fiercer spiritual battles in 2019.
Did you know who “did us a good turn” by spreading this Epistle? He was not well-known and was often forgotten. Who was he? Ephesians 6: 19-22 write,”And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. But that you also may know my affairs and how I am doing, Tychicus (fortunate, fortuitous), a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make all things known to you; whom I have sent to you for this very purpose, that you may know our affairs, and that he may comfort your hearts.”
Writing was seemingly not sufficient for the Apostle Paul. He needed a messenger, Tychicus (a Greek), to talk about his conditions and to comfort the listeners as well.
Since the Lord cares for us “by chance,” do we want to share the news and give comfort to those who suffer so that they may obtain victory in the Lord Jesus Christ and experience God’s promises?
Who was Tychicus? Wihout doubt, the Apostle Paul chose him with care to be his “mouth piece.” That way, the church knew his affairs and background. And so do we. Tychicus was neither an outsider nor a stranger. He was a brother in the Lord and a faithful servant of God among the Ephesian believers. Tychicus had a great task to carry out and knew the Apostle Paul very well for sure. This was the situation of the early church where members of the body of Christ had a close-knit relationship, embracing one another.
Stay alert because in this end time, church members do not know their pastor personally. After all, they take pleasure in his sermons that sound like music to their ears. Aren’t we raised to be mature members of the body in order not to be tossed around by multiple teachings (Ephesians 4: 14)?
A servant of God is not supposed to perform “a one-man show.” Rather, he ought to embrace his church members and encourage them to take part in the ministries. With this in mind, a servant of God should not act as a know-it-all and boss around his church members. Despite his high position, he should humble himself and bring many people to Jesus instead.
The Apostle Paul sent Tychicus to cheer the believers up not only in Ephesus but in Colosse as well.
This way, they might live in wisdom towards outsiders, speak with love (seasoned) and feel
comforted (Colossians 4: 5-8).
Let’s get ready to be like Tychicus who provided comfort instead of persistently begging for God’s
protection for his own sake. Do not live an exclusive life. Rather, learn to socialize and communicate
Aside from Tychicus, the Apostle Paul appointed Onesimus to keep the Colossian believers informed
of everything that was going on (v.9). Who was Onesimus? He was a slave who stole the money of his
master, Philemon. Having fled from his master’s house, he got arrested and finally jailed
(Philemon 1: 9-10).
Paul met Onesimus in prison and each had a different case. Paul was imprisoned because of Jesus
Christ while Onesimus’ imprisonment was due to a pure crime. While in prison, Paul ministered to
Onesimus (= profitable, useful). Paul shared God’s love with him and his life got changed.
Once a useless slave, Onesimus became Paul’s beloved disciple. Paul asked Philemon to accept him
as a beloved brother instead of a slave. Paul was ready to pay off Onesimus’ debts (vv. 11-16).
Isn’t everyone in Christ a new creation (2 Corinthians 5: 17)?
Are we better off than Onesimus, an ex-prisoner with a dark past? Indeed, God is holy and wants us
to be holy like Him (1 Peter 1: 15-16). The reality is, however, that no one is reighteous and holy.
All have sinned and deserved death penalty (cf. Romans 3:10, 23; 6:23). Therefore, He first sanctified
man before he sent him as His messenger.
Keep in mind that once we have committed sin, the sin will stick to us and serve as evidence when
the judgement day breaks (Revelation 20: 13) unless we put it right with Him. Human virtues mean
nothing to Him. The Apostle Paul admitted that he was the worst sinner ever when he lived his life
in unbelief (1 Timothy 1: 13-15) – before God chose him to be His messenger.
Without question, God appointed Onesimus to accompany Tychicus to be a witness of Christ
(cf. Matthew 18:16). Onesimus’ bad past cast no suspicion on their partnership. How awesome it will
be if two people (husband and wife) are on the same page ready to bring consolation to suffering
hearts this new year!
When was the name “Tychicus” was first mentioned? On one occasion, a riot broke out in the city of
Ephesus. The incident was provoked by Demetrius, a craftman making silver replicas of godess
Artemis shrine. His business was operating at a loss after the Apostle Paul brought the Ephesians to
repentance (Acts 19: 23-29).
When the tumult subsided, Paul called and strengthened his disciples before he left for Maccedonia
(Acts 20: 1-20). He was accompanied by Sopater the son of Pirus from Berea, Aristarchus and
Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy and another two men from Asia, Tychicus
and Trophimus who left earlier and waited for them at Troas (vv. 4-5). They were all Greeks but did
not worship at the same place. Paul singled out Tychicus to be his “mouthpiece” in Ephesus and
Colosse alike. In fact, Tychicus was a living testimony, faithfully following in the Apostle Paul’s
Haven’t we been following in Paul’s footsteps (not physically) through the Letter to the Ephesians
all the year 2018 through? From his other letters, we learn that he suffered from a disease,
undermining his body until his death. In spite of this, he did not protest against God, knowing that
God’s grace was enough for him. Even when he was, he became strong because God’s power was
made perfect in his weakness (2 Corinthians 12: 7-10).
To be a messenger traveling from one place to another at the time was surely not as easy as it is
today. Means of transportation and communication caused both Tychicus and Onesimus major
problems. For example, how Tychicus explained to the Colossian believers that the Apostle Paul was
imprisoned because of Christ instead of disgrace. As a matter of fact, the Christians who did not like
him put him into jail.
Please note this: Never ever postpone or miss out on an opportunity that God (not a church
organization) gives us for whatever reason (still young, still on the way to reach success, still working
to get rich before ministering, etc.)! Let’s not harden our hearts when we, the gentiles from various
ethnic groups, get the chance to be a blessing to others. In Jesus Christ, there is unity – no more Jews
or Greeks, slaves or free men, men or women (Galatians 3: 28).
It was not a celebrated servant of God who circulated the Letter to the Ephesins, but a common
person with a full commitment who was ready to “run errands.” The Apostle Paul’s letters were not
“best sellers.” The contents of his letters thrust deep into the readers’ hearts. Those with feeble faith
cannot understand Paul’s writings and tend to twist the truth around (2 Peter 3: 15-16).
Are God’s servants with a Master’s degree, Bible-College graduates, ready to be “commissioned” to
minister to rural places? Don’t servants of God study theology to serve Him, rather than to develop
their preaching skills to be top preachers. Did you know how the apostles, the evangelists of Christ,
die? They all died as martyrs except the Apostle John who died old.
To be messengers of the gospel, we do not need to wait until we hold a prominent positon in church
(a deacon, an elder, etc.). The point is that we serve with a heart. That way, we stay ready to take the
risks that our ministries take. Isn’t the love of many getting colder and colder (Matthew 24: 12),
ignoring those around them?
Without doubt, Paul had his reasons to choose Tychicus. One of his reasons was that Tychicus was
faithful to the trust given to him. Church attendance is not the parameter of faithfulness. Rather,
faithfuless has to do with firmly holding on to and being responsible for the the given trust. Being
responsible, one will not quickly pass the trust on to someone else without the permission of the one
who has given the trust.
Paul commissioned Tychicus to comfort those who were suffering. Was that a piece of cake?
The Holy Spirit must first comfort us (John 14: 25) before we bring comfort to the grief-stricken.
We will comfort no one if we do it, relying on our own strength.
The Bible shows the way how to comfort others:
The merciful God the Father, the source of consolation, comforted Paul in his difficult moments.
That’s why he knew how to console those entangled in multiple sufferings with the comfort he
had received from God (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4).
In His great agony, He still had words of comfort to utter, ”Father, forgive them, for they do not
know what they do“ (Luke 23: 34).
These days, disasters (floods, earthquakes, fires, landslides, etc.) have been hitting a great many
countries, including Indonesia, not to speak of persecutions, verbal and physical abuses because
of the Name of the Lord. In this case, plenty of money and (momentary) magnificent facilities do
not guarantee full comfort without the provision of spiritual, soothing consolation.
Ironically, the more we suffer for Christ, the more comfort He gives us (2 Corinthians 1:5). Our
suffering turns into comfort, salvation and strength for others who suffer like us (v.6). The Apostle
Paul modeled for us how he suffered to strengthen the church. Jesus is the flawless model. He
died to give us life.
Once in the comfort zone, lots of pastors are, in fact, unwilling to ‘’die” for the sake of their
congregations. Hasn’t the blood of Jesus sanctified our hearts? Hasn’t the Holy Spirit comforted
us? It is time for us to comfort others as they need Jesus as well! Just imagine, our sufferings
provide comfort to others. On the one hand, for example, a servant of God, by God’s power, gets
criticized, distrusted and even excommunicated. On the other hand, others get blessed.
God comforts a humble man. When Paul got caught up in distress (by disputes from the outside
and fear from the inside), God sent Titus to him. (2 Corinthians 7: 2-6). He asked the believers in
Corinth to open their hearts for him since he had opened his heart for them. He got comforted
and overjoyed in all sufferings.
Titus brought consolation to the Apostle Paul. Who was Titus? He was just a church activist, but
he knew how to comfort a senior pastor. His comfort blessed the believers in Corinth as well (v.
7). The Apostle Paul was out of the Corinthian believers’ sights, but they kept him in their minds.
Here we see how a pastor and his congregation comforted each other. A pastor should not curse
his congregants. Likewise, the congregation should not turn their pastor down.
Do we keep asking for God’s protection and never think about protecting our relatives and friends
who do not know Him yet? By loving the Word of God, let’s make good use of God’s opportunity
to choose us. Let’s put on the armor and stay ready to defeat the devil with his trickery even if we
have to risk the sufferings the battle may cost us.
Do not get dismayed. The Lord cares for us even in times of hardships. With rock solid faith, we
must fight off the devil. Bear in mind that we are not alone. Our fellow believers across the globe
suffer the way we do. However, God equips us with His armor, strengthens and establishes us
after we have suffered for a little while because He has power forever and ever (1 Peter 5: 7-11).
Once Job suffered beyond measure. The devil attacked him, trying to topple his faith. But God was
in control. Like purified gold, Job endured his sufferings and got rewarded with victory in the end
(Job 23: 10).
Let’s stop judging people who suffer, accusing them of committing sins that bring about their
sufferings while we feel spritually awesome and holy. Instead, let’s make good use the opportunity to
help them so that their faith may stay steadfast. Like ‘Tychicus,’ let’s stay ready to be witnesses of
Christ, bringing comfort to those who suffer because of the name of the Lord. Then all of us will come out winners since God is our Protector. Amen.