Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. – Colossians 4:2-6.
Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts, with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all things which are happening here. – Colossians 4:7-9.
Never underestimate the power of speech. Whether the communication is oral or written, there is great power in words.
Sharing Burdens is the fourth and final of the four most important ministries of speech that Paul wrote in this letter to the church of Colossae:
“Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts, with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all things which are happening here.”
Paul did not spell out the details of his personal situation in this letter. He left it to his two spiritual brothers, Tychicus and Onesimus, to share the burdens with the church in Colossae. This is another wonderful ministry of speech, one that is too often overlooked: we can share our needs and burdens with others; then they can encourage, pray for, and assist us.
When Paul left Ephesus, he was accompanied by seven other believers—among them, Tychicus (Acts 20:4). These men were helping Paul deliver the love offering from the Gentile churches to the poor saints in Judea (1 Corinthians 16:1; 2 Corinthians 8–9). It is possible that Tychicus and Trophimus were the two brethren Paul referred to in his Second Letter to the Corinthians (see 2 Corinthians 8:19–24).
Tychicus shared Paul’s Roman imprisonment and no doubt was helpful to him in many ways. Paul chose Tychicus and Onesimus to deliver the Ephesian letter (Ephesians 6:21) and of course the Colossian letter. Also, they took the personal letter Paul wrote to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus. Paul instructed Tychicus to share with the Colossian Christians all the details of his situation there in Rome.
Paul’s description of Tychicus reveals what a splendid Christian Tychicus really was. He was a “beloved brother,” willing to stay with Paul even though the situation was difficult. How encouraging it is to have a Christian at your side when everything seems to be against you!
Tychicus was also a “faithful minister.” His love revealed itself in action. He ministered TO Paul as is apparently implied, and he also ministered FOR Paul to assist the Apostle in his many obligations. Someone has said that the greatest ability in the world is dependability, and this is true. Paul could depend on Tychicus to get the job done.
Tychicus was also Paul’s “fellow servant.” Though he was not an apostle himself, he was assisting Paul in his apostolic ministry. In Paul’s thinking as evidenced in all of his letters, Paul believed that all were called to be servants and there was no distinction as to rank. Paul and Tychicus worked together in the service of the Lord. Later, Paul was able to send Tychicus to Crete (Titus 3:12), and then to Ephesus (2 Timothy 4:12).
It was not easy for Tychicus to be associated with Paul, the prisoner; for Paul had many enemies. Nor was it easy for Tychicus to travel as he did, assisting Paul in his various tasks. Tychicus did not take the easy way, but rather the right way. What an example he is in his obedience to serve. Something could be said about how important it is to have a servant like him in our churches today!
Paul also mentioned Onesimus as, “one of you” who himself came from Colossae. He was the runaway slave who belonged to Philemon and who had been won to Christ through Paul’s ministry in Rome. Paul sent Onesimus back to his master with a letter asking Philemon to receive him and forgive him (see Philemon). It is interesting to note that Paul also called Onesimus “faithful and beloved.” Onesimus had been a believer only a short time, and yet he had already proved himself to Paul.
These two men had a dual ministry to perform: to encourage the Colossian Christians and to inform them about Paul’s situation. Is it wrong for God’s people to share information in this way? Of course not! Paul was not begging for money or asking for sympathy. He wanted the Colossian saints to know his situation so they could pray for him and with him, at least in spirit. While it is true that some Christian workers “use” circumstances selfishly to enlist support, this was not true of Paul. He simply wanted his friends in Colossae to know the facts and to support him in prayer.
Something that I do because I have been involved in online ministry for years and especially when it concerns the homebound and disabled, I pray for those specific needs when I receive them. I also pray for the other online ministries that oftentimes are taken for granted. When I first started out, I was told by my peers it was just “hobby” ministry and not true ministry at all, and yet over time, God has proven just the opposite! These other ministries need prayer, encouragement and compassionate support. They fill a need and a gap that that many “brick and mortar” churches do not or cannot fill. Besides, we are able to reach people all over the world because of the tools the Lord has opened up in this day and age. Sharing burdens is an important and often overlooked part of ministry today.
Praying, proclaiming the Word, witnessing, and sharing burdens—these are four wonderful ministries of speech. How much better it is to be involved in these ministries than to be using our tongues for gossip, malicious criticism, and other sinful purposes.
Let’s make David’s prayer our prayer: “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.” – Psalm 141:3.