In this sermon Tim finishes our Ephesians Series by looking at the role of Tychicus as an encourager sent to the Church in Ephesus by Paul and how we can all be encouragers!
Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday, August 1 2021.
Ephesians 6 Encouragement
Well today we come to the end of a 6 month journey through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
- I have loved it, and I know many of you have too.
- It reminds me of what my old NT and preaching professor at Regent College used to say.
- He wasn’t opposed to topical series at church, but his basic premise was that if we preach through books of the bible, all of the topics Christians need to think about will come up.
- And it will be done contextually and hopefully faithfully to God’s Word.
So we’ve covered a lot. And the big theme of Ephesians was how Paul tells the Gospel story and how it should reshape every part of our story!
- So chapters 1-3 on the glorious riches and blessings that we have received in Christ. Adoption into God’s family, forgiveness, an undeserved grace.
- A new humanity of Jews and Gentiles who have both received peace from God.
- And then the big pivot in chapter 4 where Paul say, therefore, live a life worth of the calling you have received.
- And then these glorious instructions on Christian Living. Our old self put away and a new righteous self emerging that affects our values and relationships and speech.
- And all our key relationships now marked by serving one another, in marriage, in parenting, in the workplace.
- We come out of darkness and live in the light, and then knowing we are in a spiritual battle we put on the armour of God!
It’s been a wild ride! I remember when I told Luke Wilson we were doing Ephesians he said, oh cool, like 3 or 4 weeks. Haha! Not quite…
- But hopefully you can see how relevant all of scripture is to our lives, and how helpful going through a letter like Ephesians can be.
- I hope it has given you a passion for the bible! And I hope you are more in love with Jesus, God’s great revelation of his glory.
So how does Paul finish his letter? How does Paul, the great Apostle who established the church in the great city of Ephesus conclude this remarkable letter?
- It’s been deeply theological and deeply practical…
- But he finishes it with real pastoral care. And it shows his deep love of the church he had helped establish in Ephesus.
- He sends them Tychicus (Ti-chi-cus), a dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord to encourage them.
- And he blesses them with a farewell of peace, love and faith, and grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s have a look – Ephesians 6:21-24
21 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. 22 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.
23 Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
The other day I received a message from one of the Dad’s out of the blue.
- Nothing too deep or profound, but among other things, he just said how much we all love you and that you’re doing an amazing job!
- And that was incredibly encouraging. The Lord used it to strengthen my soul and lift my spirits.
- Not that I have huge discouragements, but we tend, don’t we, to take on board criticisms, or self judgements, much more than encouragements.
- So in order to keep the faith and stay buoyant and to move forward… we need to be lifted up regularly.
Undoubtedly this is a very challenging time. For us all, but particularly for those who are isolated or have taken some hits during this lockdown.
- There was an article in the SMH this week entitled “If you’re feeling low, you’re not alone! Distress at record high during lockdown.”
- It stated that in normal times around 5% of Australians typically report moderate to severe symptoms of depression.
- In lockdown, that has increased 5 fold.
- To the point where one in five people had had at least occasional thoughts in the previous two weeks “that they would be better off dead”.
- So these are incredibly challenging times.
And as we look through scripture, we see in passage after passage, how vital encouragement, as an expression of love, is for God’s people.
- I like what one author says “encouragement is like oxygen in the life of a church. It keeps hearts beating, minds clear, and hands inspired to serve.”
- So because encouragement is so important to the church, God actually commands that we do it.
- In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Paul says “encourage one another and build each other up!”
- And in Romans 12 it is included in the gifts that are a part of the body of Christ. There is a huge role for encouragement in the church!
So just a couple of things on this passage before we get into the general topic of being an encouragement to each other.
- So Paul sends the church his dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, Tychicus, to keep them posted on how he is doing and to encourage them!
- I assume he would deliver this letter, but then also stay on and share and encourage them
- Clearly this is someone that Paul deeply cares about and trusts and who is known for having a gift of encouragement.
So some words used to describe him:
Firstly, beloved: So in the NIV it is translated as dear, but the Greek word Agapetos is more clearly translated as beloved.
- And Agapetos has that well known word for Christian sacrificial love – agape in it.
- So Tychicus is beloved. And this signifies the kind of heart that he had for serving others and God.
- Interestingly this is the same word God uses to describe his Son after Jesus baptism. “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.”
- So Tychicus is sent as an encouragement to the church in Ephesus because of his affinity with Paul and shared heart. He is beloved by Paul.
Next he is described as a Brother: which is the Greek word Adelphos, which means coming from the same womb!
- Now this is not literal, but as we know in the scriptures, when you become a Christian you get born again into a new life in God’s family.
- And as Paul has said in Ephesians we are adopted.
- And so such is the closeness that Christians now have that we are brothers and sisters.
- And really in the same way you would drop anything for a family member in need, so is the relationship for those of the same faith in Christ.
- So Paul sees Tychicus as a brother!
Next he is called Faithful: this is the Greek word Pistos which means trustworthy, dependable and reliable.
- From the same Greek word we get our word fidelity. So Tychicus was a man who when he pledged to do something, carried it out.
- He could be relied upon to be faithful to his calling and task.
- Paul see this in his brother and he calls it out. He declares him to be a beloved brother, faithful.
- So he is seasoned and proven to be dependable upon within the church!
- What a wonderful thing to be called.
And finally he is called a Servant: And this is the Greek word Diakonos.
- It is always interesting to me, that leaders in the early church were called servants. Not Lords, or Masters, or Chief Operating Officers.
- They had taken Jesus teaching that, the greatest amongst you will be your servant seriously.
- So just as Jesus said he came not to be served, but to serve,
- So Tychicus was called by Paul, a servant. One who took the lowly position required by Christ to become a leader.
No wonder Paul trusts him to encourage the church in Ephesus. He is a beloved brother, and faithful servant.
- And as such he is entrusted to share news about Paul, and to encourage the believers in Ephesus.
So we are told part of his mission is to encourage the believers.
- The word for encouragement is parakaleo which literally means to come alongside.
- And when we are hurting, or distracted or anxious, what we so often need is someone to come alongside us and comfort us.
- So what does this look like – because surely it means more than to just give compliments.
- And I think at the heart of encouragement is lifting people’s hearts and minds to the Lord.
- It’s lovely to be told your hair looks nice (or in my case… my head looks shiny!)
- But what we really need is to be reminded of who we are in our faith and be called on into our identity in Christ.
The reality is I think this is universally one of the most difficult periods that I have seen broadly, for people in the church to face.
- And a reminder to me of the power of being in community, of being known and knowing people. We can’t follow Christ alone!
- In this broken world it is easy to feel discouraged in normal times. But in lockdown, how easy it is to maybe feel unloved or unimportant or under attack!
- So God knows his people need community and they need grace filled reminders to stand firm and keep going in the faith!
So what can we do if we want to give Christian encouragement? Let me suggest 3 things and then one final challenge!
Firstly, make encouragement a daily discipline.
- Sadly we often find it much easier to self pity or gossip, or even slander a person… and yet what we need to do is get in the habit of being encouragers.
- Could you on a daily basis send someone a note or a text or a card or make a call, that comes alongside someone and lifts them up?
- Why not get in the habit of intentionally spurring someone on in Christ! So daily!
Secondly, use scripture and gifts of the Spirit to be specific in what you say.
- Nothing encourages like God’s Word, so find and share the riches of God’s grace with others
- Mine the Psalms and the NT for bible passages that will lift people’s spirits.
- And ask the Lord for these verses or a word from God to encourage….
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 34:4–5, 8
I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
OK thirdly, let’s be committed as a church to creating a culture of encouragement in our community.
- One of the greatest gifts to me as a Pastor is seeing all of you in action.
- One of the ladies here was just telling me this week that there is no comparison for her between the last lockdown and this one.
- Why? Because last lockdown she was isolated, discouraged and anxious.
- She then joined this church community at the end of last year.
- So this lockdown she has community, and people to go on walks with, and share encouragements with, and church services to engage in!
So let’s finish with this. Whatever you are doing right now, grab your phone and who can you encourage right now?
- I mean it. Grab your phone and lets get texting.
- Who has blessed you recently that you can thank?
- Who do you know who might be feeling isolated or discouraged – what could you send them right now?
- Who do you know who you can call something out in them that you have noticed? Maybe its their generosity or their hospitality, maybe it is their courage or their perseverance in difficult times.
- So lets all do that right now…
Grab your phone and take some time…