In 1971 James Taylor sang a song about having a friend “To brighten up even your darkest night” who will “come running to see you again” and when people “hurt you and desert you and take your soul if you let them” then “you just call out my name” because “you’ve got a friend.” A song written nearly 50 years ago is on my playlists today.
Let’s go back further as we have done, to AD 62 and we see friendship was deeply important. In every generation of the history of the world friendship has been sought, broken and found again. Times of deep loneliness as friends have walked out the door and times of huge blessing as friends have been made again. If you have a friend, treasure them. I am not speaking of your Facebook friends, you have loads of them, I am speaking of Tychicus’ friends. The name means fortunate or chance. Sometimes you do feel ‘fortunate’ to have found that friend by ‘chance’ but as followers of Christ you realise it was so much more than that.
“Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.” Ephesians 6: 21-22
I have a friend
Someone who knows more than others know.
“will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing … that you may know how we are”
Loneliness is when you are not known. The enemy of your soul will try and make you an island, separated in either your thoughts or worse deeds, so that you have no one who truly knows you. To be known is to be safe.
Someone who is present in your prison.
“so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing … that you may know how we are”
Some people leave you when you are locked down. They were there for what they could get from you not for who you are. When you went into prison they didn’t follow you. The shame and embarrassment was too much. You can only talk badly about someone in prison to others if you are not there yourself. The fear of man is a snare.
Someone who has stood the test of time.
“Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord”
The Apostle’s friend was part of his team on his 3rd missionary journey as they carried the gifts of money to Jerusalem. He was trusted. Tychicus was considered by Paul to take on the leadership of the Church in Crete (Titus 3:12). He was trusted. And of course Paul was sending his friend to the believers of Colossae and Ephesians with the important letters. He was trusted. Time has many experiences and some very challenging ones. Who went in with you isn’t necessarily who comes out with you but those who have stood by you during the time are the Tychicus friends.
Someone who shapes your life.
“ … the dear brother …” Unlike myself who have often used these words for when I have forgotten someone’s name, the Apostle uses this word carefully! Tychicus is a brother. Do you remember when with his pre-conversion name Saul he met Christ on the Damascus Road and became blind? Do you remember how the Lord called Ananias to go and disciple Saul? Now, do you remember the very words Ananias used? It was “Brother Saul …” That must have made a profound impact upon him. There can be negative impacts on siblings growing up together of course but in terms of teaching social well-being, emotional development, the shaping of your life. There are few more influencers in your life than a brother or a sister.
Someone who is faithful.
“ … faithful servant in the Lord …” He was dependable. The Apostle could rely on his friend to speak about him. Do you ever wonder what people say about you? As a minister most of my working life I realised very early on that I do appear as a subject of people’s conversations and have tried my very best not to torture myself on what people are saying about me. Of course, I may be deceived and am not that important to have taken up anyone’s conversational time! What I do know is if you have found someone who you can rely on to speak well of you away from your presence then that person is a faithful friend.
Someone who is self-less.
“… servant in the Lord …” The word is literally a bond slave. Someone who doesn’t have their own rights but is under the control of their master. The Apostle uses the word a lot. His friend is not his bond slave but the Lord’s, just as he was, fellow servants, slaves to the Lord. We may struggle with some of these words in 2020 but nevertheless this person is someone who doesn’t think of themselves above others. Have you ever gone out for coffee with someone and all they do is talk about themselves and you wonder if they will ever ask a question of you so that you might for one moment be able to say something which may be slightly interesting to them about you?! (too many words in that question indicates this is a problem I have!) Have you ever gone out for coffee with someone and you always pay for the coffee? You get what I am saying. To journey with self-less people is a dream.
Someone who encourages.
“ … and that he may encourage you.” Finally, the friend who makes you feel better. You just know that they are a joy to be with, they lift you up, the speak well over you, they spur you on. The word encourage means ‘with heart’. We need friends who don’t just give us a pat on the back but who can give us a new heart and who brings the best out of us.
I have a friend, do you?
I’ve got a better question.
I am a friend, are you?