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Be a Servant in the Lord

Sermon Date:June 4, 2017

Sermon Topics:Ephesians 6:21-22

Author:Allen Burns

Sermon Topics:, , ,

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 Sermon Title: Be a Servant in the Lord Sermon Text: Ephesians 6:21-22 Memory Verse: 1 Peter 4:10 MAIN IDEA: Strive to be a beloved, faithful, purposeful, and caring servant in the Lord.   NOTE: “Scripture quotations are from the NASB." This manuscript is provided as a courtesy and is not intended for publication. The audio and video message differs from the manuscript. Thanks for understanding.   Strive to be a beloved servant Strive to be a faithful servant Strive to be a purposeful servant Strive to be a caring servant Strive to be a servant in the Lord  

Intro: Tychicus who?

We are at the close of the letter to the Ephesians. The close has two components, a salutation at the end and information about his circumstances immediately before. But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts. (Eph. 6:21-22)   Tychicus appears in the New Testament five times (Acts 20:4; Eph. 6:21; Col 4:7; 2 Tim 4:12; Tit 3:12). Before we speak of his involvement with the church Ephesus, let’s take a moment to look at his involvement with other churches. When he arrives in Ephesus around 58 ad., Tychicus is carrying three letters. We know one is the letter to Ephesus. The second is Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae, which is inland from Ephesus. The third letter he carries is the letter to Philemon, who is in Colossae. We may assume that after his work is complete in Ephesus, Tychicus will journey to Colossae and minister in the same way he does in Ephesus. While there, he will plead the case of Onesimus to Philemon. Onesimus is a runaway slave who Paul leads to Christ while in Rome. Philemon is the slave owner. Paul writes to Philemon asking him to receive Onesimus back under his care and to forgive Onesimus for running away. Onesimus is better off having Tychicus with him as he goes to visit his previous owner. Another place Tychicus appears is in the letter to Titus (Titus 3:12). Titus is on the island of Crete leading the churches there. Paul tells Titus he may send Tychicus (or Artemas) to Crete to oversee the church so that Titus might be free to come to be with the apostle at Nicopolis. Let’s now talk about Tychicus involvement with the church in Ephesus. About two years after starting the church in Ephesus, Paul is making his way to Jerusalem. He is carrying the money collected from the Gentile churches, as a love offering for the poor in Jerusalem. Luke tells us, Paul has with him seven other men (eight if we count Luke) representing the churches (Acts 20:4). Tychicus is from a church in Asia, which is the same region as Ephesus and Colossae. As Paul is making his way to Jerusalem, he decides to sail past Ephesus so that he can be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost (Acts 20:16). Paul stops in Miletus and calls for the elders of Ephesus to meet him there. After the elders arrive, they will meet Tychicus while visiting with Paul at Miletus (around 58 ad.) The time spent in Miletus with the elders is notable. Paul tells them how he sees trouble ahead in Jerusalem. We can read the account in Acts 20. After meeting with them, and it is time for Paul to depart, Luke describes the occasion. When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they were accompanying him to the ship. (Acts 20:36-38) Around 62 ad, Paul is writing this letter from prison, he knows the Ephesians are concerned about Paul. Paul sends a familiar face, Tychicus, an Asian like them, to make everything about Paul known to the Ephesian believers. And, of course, Tychicus is carrying the letter from Paul to hand to the church. This is not the last time the Ephesians will see Tychicus. Around 66 ad., while Timothy is now serving as the overseer at Ephesus, Paul once again intends to send Tychicus as a replacement (apparently Artemas is the one who went to Crete to relieve Titus). Paul wants him to take Timothy’s place so that Timothy may meet up with Paul in Rome (2 Tim. 4:12). Considering how well he served the church, it’s interesting we don’t hear much about Tychicus. He is what we might call, an unsung hero. He ministers in Ephesus, he participates in restoring Onesimus to Philemon, and he hand-carries the Word of God to Ephesus and Colossae. Throughout church history, there are many unsung heroes serving the church. We never hear their name. They are not in history books, yet, there are thousands upon thousands who serve in obscurity. There are hundreds of scribes who laboring over Scripture manuscripts. There are people ministering to traveling missionaries. Some build churches while others feed the men who labor or donate materials. We can fill libraries with stories of people throughout history who have serve God in countless ways, and we will never know their name (while on earth). Our goal with this message is to encourage one another. Many people here serve, often, without receiving a thank-you or recognition. In many ways, we are all like Tychicus, serving behind the scenes. As we serve, we want to look at what the Scripture says about Tychicus, a trusted helper of Paul, and be like him. The main idea of today’s message is this: MAIN IDEA: Strive to be a beloved, faithful, purposeful, and caring servant in the Lord. God reveals to us characteristics of this wonderful man, Tychicus, who served the church in the first century. In this passage, we see character qualities which all of us will do well to imitate.

Strive to be a Beloved Servant

The Apostle Paul recognizes Tychicus as a beloved brother. How might we imagine the Ephesians when they see Tychicus coming their way? It’s not hard to imagine that the elders, who met him around four years earlier in Miletus, are very pleased to see him. One day, down at the port, Tychicus walks off a boat and makes his way to the church. It is very unlikely they see him and think, “Oh great, here comes that guy who was with Paul. What does he want? I hope he’s not planning to stay too long.” We imagine the elders see him as a joyful sight. It is likely they see him coming and embrace him like a long-lost friend. He is one of them. He is a believer, a brother in Christ, likely saved through Paul’s ministry. Tychicus understands what it is like to follow Christ while living in a pagan society. Like them, Tychicus is seeking to grow in Christ and mature in this new relationship with God. We need to look at one another as beloved. We all struggle and have our various personalities. As we serve the Lord, our goal ought to be such that when we walk towards our brothers and sisters, we bring a smile to their face. We are a sight of joy. It needs to be our desire to have people say, “Oh good! Here comes a beloved brother (or sister). They understand. They are helpful and kind. I am so glad they are here, and I sure hope they will stay.” When we are beloved, we are cherished and admired. Being beloved comes from proving ourselves as a person who has other people in mind. We need to strive to care for others so that when we walk across the room, they exclaim, here comes a beloved brother or sister in Christ. Ask God for help to be a beloved brother and sister in the church. Strive to be a beloved servant.

Strive to be a Faithful Servant

Another characteristic Paul gives Tychicus is that he is a faithful minister. The word in the Greek for minister, is the same word we use for deacon, which means servant. Paul entrusts Tychicus with a very important mission. He is to deliver the Epistle to the Ephesians. The Apostle knows enough about Tychicus to know he may be trusted to carry three letters and to make sure those letters will reach their destination. What Paul asks of Tychicus is not easy. Traveling in the first century is filled with hardships. Paul expects him to make the long journey from Rome to Asia. It will take a journey of about three weeks over land and sea (with favorable winds), to bring the letter to the church. (It is comparable to walking from here to Portsmouth and then sailing to the southern tip of Florida.) He knows Tychicus will guard the letters with his life and will not forget them on the ship or let them get wet from the rain. Tychicus will not be a simple letter-carrier, but an emissary, teacher, and trusted servant to the church. After arriving, Tychicus will explain any points of the letter the Ephesians may not understand. It seems Tychicus is with Paul for quite a long period. No doubt, Tychicus proves himself faithful many times over the years. He proves himself trustworthy in the little tasks before Paul assigns him with such an important role. He earns Paul’s trust. As we serve in the church, we need to prove ourselves as faithful servants. We need to first prove ourselves faithful in the little tasks. Sometimes the tasks may be as simple as making sure the lights of the church are shut off, and the doors are locked as we leave. We need to prove we will not be late and will show up at meetings. It may be making sure everyone has a copy of a handout or that the tables are set before a potluck dinner. Faithfulness involves seeing a duty completed from start to finish consistently. It is proving oneself over time and not just once or twice. Faithfulness takes years to develop. We have many trusted, faithful servants in the church. When the Sunday school teachers teach, we know they prepare beforehand, and the children leave the classroom well cared for and taught in the Word of God. We trust our infants to people serving in the nursery. The worship team practices so we may enjoy singing praises to God with beautiful accompaniment. Greeters are faithful to be on time and greet people as they enter the building. There are many duties of the church requiring faithfulness. Let’s strive to be people who others may trust with a task, knowing the task will be completed and done in a way which honors Christ. Strive to be faithful servants.

Strive to Be a Purposeful Servant

The Apostle Paul tells the Ephesians that Tychicus is sent to them for a purpose. He writes, “I have sent him to you for this very purpose …” A purposeful servant knows the purpose behind their duty. We get the impression from Scripture that Tychicus is a man who submits himself to Paul’s leadership. He likely says to Paul on a regular basis, “What would you like me to do? How may I serve you?” He doesn’t have his agenda but seeks to fulfill the greater purpose and plan of the church. He shows up to serve Paul. Making the journey to Ephesus and Colossae is not a vacation, but hard work which requires sacrifice by Tychicus. He seeks to further the Kingdom of God and is willing to receive instruction from others on how that may best take place. As we serve in the church, do we seek to accomplish our purpose, or do we serve the vision of the church? Are we willing to make sacrifices of our time and energy because we see the greater purpose needing to be fulfilled? There is satisfaction in serving the kingdom of God and not our own needs. Many people in the church serve with a purpose. People serve every day asking, what may I do? People serve knowing we have a vision and a goal to evangelize and disciple people in the Upper Valley. When we serve with a purpose, God is our rewarder. There is joy in sacrifice and giving for the Kingdom. It is fulfilling to serve in a way that is pleasing to God. Strive to be a purposeful servant.

Strive to Be a Caring Servant

Tychicus strikes us a man who cares about others. In Colossae, he will stand by Onesimus as a beloved brother so he will not have to face Philemon alone. Tychicus is a man who cares the Ephesians hearts are heavy with concern for Paul. He remembers how the elders wept over Paul and they love Paul very much. What joy it must bring Tychicus to bring word about Paul to the Ephesians. He meets their need of being consoled. He will patiently and lovingly tell them about Paul’s trials and how Paul is doing well in prison. He cares enough to get on a boat and travel out of his way. He will communicate to the Ephesians, not only the consolation of favorable information concerning Paul, but he will also bring favorable information concerning the Word of God. He cares about making sure they understand the content. He will bring word of hope so they may know about their inheritance in Christ. He will share with them that they receive the glories of the promises of Abraham and they are fellow partakers of the Jews in all the promises of God. He cares that they know about the unfathomable riches of Christ and they are together alive, risen, and seated with Christ in the heavenly places. When we are caring servants, we help bring hope to others in the church. Sometimes we bring a word to console their heart because they have a deep concern. We care about others when they mourn. We care to bring a good teaching in the Scripture to correct misunderstandings or to encourage people in the faith. The church is not a building, the church is made up of people. We need to care about the people in the church. People have real needs, and we need to help in whatever way we can to meet those needs. Let us never forget that, as we serve, whether it is practicing an instrument or painting the lines in the parking lot, that we are serving people. Let’s strive to be, not just servants, but caring servants.

Strive to be a Servant in the Lord

The Apostle Paul says Tychicus is a beloved servant in the Lord. Tychicus is in Christ. As he serves, he is a man who belongs to Christ. He sees himself as an adopted child of God. He rejoices in the forgiveness of sins. He knows his salvation is undeserved and, if it had not been for Christ, he is a man condemned by God facing eternal punishment. All these truths are near and dear to his heart. Tychicus is in the Lord, and in the Lord, he finds joy and satisfaction. All the riches of Rome have no shine, but are dull compared to the treasure and riches of Christ. The Holy Spirit leads Tychicus to die to self and to put to death the deeds of the flesh. The immorality of the Roman culture he finds repulsive. He is not of Rome, but his citizenship is in Heaven as a child of the King of kings. As Tychicus journeys through to carry the letters from Paul to the church, he doesn’t worry about facing tribulation or that the journey may be treacherous. His eyes are on the cross. For him, to live is Christ, but to die is gain. He moves about doing the work of the Lord because he trusts in the sovereignty and providence of God. God is his refuge. God’s grace is sufficient. He no longer lives for himself, but Christ lives in him. He is an ambassador for Christ, moving about the Roman Empire seeking to make much of Christ, his Lord, and Savior. Paul may confidently write, Tychicus is in the Lord. His faith is apparent to others because his walk is one who displays the character of Christ. All the attributes of Tychicus, beloved, faithful, purposeful, and caring are evident because of the work of Christ in his life. Tychicus is a new creature in Christ. He serves Christ, and the Holy Spirit bears fruit in him. It needs to be our goal, that when people refer to our lives, they may say without hesitation, that we are in the Lord. When we are servants of Christ in the Lord, we serve out of a thankful heart. We serve because we look to the reward of being with Christ as the ultimate prize. We don’t need anything in this world because we already have Christ and we share in His inheritance. We know our Heavenly Father watches over us even more than the sparrow. God counts the number of hairs on our head. He supplies our every need. We may serve Him with joy and gladness because our hearts are full with the love of Christ.

Closing

God gives us a beautiful example to follow as we think about this man, Tychicus. He is pleased to be a servant who carries a simple letter from Rome to Ephesus. We need to be like him and strive to be a beloved, faithful, purposeful, and caring servant in the Lord. We can read the Bible and think little of our contribution because of what read regarding the Saints of the Lord. We may think, I am only doing a little bit. Look at Tychicus and how he did such wonderful work for God. The big question is, “Are we to measure and compare our contributions to the kingdom?” Let’s ask ourselves, “Are we right to think this way?” Does Tychicus earn more favor than us because his name is in the Bible? Does Paul earn more favor than Tychicus? Who does more, Peter or Paul? God gives us His Holy Spirit as a pledge. He also gives us His Holy Spirit to give us gifts so we may edify and build up the church. Peter writes: As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10) Peter, Paul, and Tychicus received the gift to serve from God. Therefore, everything they did is because God enabled them. The Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Cor. 15:58) Everything we do is not in vain. It is not the actual task, but the toil, the effort which counts. All of our service in the Lord has value. Jesus said: And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward. (Mat. 10:42) As we put these passages together, we may know that God seeks for us to be good stewards of the gifts He gives us. As we serve and abound in the work of the Lord, our toil is not in vain. Even a small task as simple as giving a brother or sister a glass of water receives a reward. We are born in the time and place of God’s choosing. We are not born during the time of the Israelite captivity in Egypt. God chose Moses to be His servant to toil in that time. We are not born in a time when there is a Philistine giant mocking God, so we need to grab our slingshot and slay him for his blasphemy. God chose David to toil in that time and place. We are not born during the time of Elijah to call down fire from heaven on Mount Carmel. We are born today, in this time and place. We have responsibilities given to us by God so the Kingdom of Christ may be established here and now. We have responsibilities to glorify God in our family, church, workplace, marketplace, and everywhere we go. We are responsible as ambassadors of Christ, declaring the Gospel. Moses, King David, Elijah, Paul, and Tychicus all performed meaningful tasks for the Lord. God placed them in their time and gave them a task to accomplish. God gave each of them the strength, gifts, and wisdom. They did nothing on their strength, but God worked through them. They are clay, and God is the potter. In the eyes of God, Paul and Tychicus are equal. When we serve God in the time and place He chose for us; we also do nothing on our strength. God is looking around on the earth for vessels to channel His glory. We need to be available, willing, and ready. God gives us the skills, and He supplies the strength and the power. When Moses stood before the Red Sea and lifted up his staff and stretched out his hand over the sea, God parted the sea. Moses is nothing more than an available, willing vessel for the glory of God. Moses did nothing special except obey and allow God to work through him. God is pleased because of Moses’ obedience. God is not a respecter of persons. When we stand ready and available as a willing vessel, God is just as pleased with us as He is with Moses. God did not call us to part the Red Sea. God calls us to do the tasks He gave us. It may be running the soundboard, working in the nursery, mowing the lawn, or teaching junior church, or proclaiming the gospel on the streets of Windsor. As we enter the Pearly Gates, God does not have a different welcome for Moses because Moses lifted up his staff and stretched out his hand over the water. God will look at Moses and say, “Well done My good and faithful servant.” Tychicus enters and God says to him, “Well done My good and faithful servant.” If we are obedient by being available, willing, and ready, we will walk through the gates of heaven, and God will look at us in the same way, with the same smile, and with the same joy and will say to us, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Oh, what joy to serve such a wonderful Master. MAIN IDEA: Strive to be a beloved, faithful, purposeful, and caring servant in the Lord.