I have been thinking a lot this week about friendship, specifically the cost and benefits of having good friends. It is amazing to me to consider how many times Paul wrote glowing words about his friends and partners in the ministry of the gospel. In Ephesians 6, as he closed his letter to the church in that city, Paul spoke of Tychicus saying that he was “a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord. (v.21)” He said something very similar in Colossians 4:7, “Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me.” He was sent to Ephesus and Colosse to encourage the believers there with news of Paul’s well-being and the fruit of his ministry. First mentioned in Acts 20:4, Tychicus was a traveling companion of Paul and his representative to the churches in Asia.
Like so many of the men who ministered alongside Paul, we know little of this man outside of the handful of references included in Scripture. He was dependable and trustworthy, a man whom Paul considered capable of continuing his ministry to the Ephesians and Colossians while he was imprisoned and unable to minister to them in person. His service on Paul’s behalf was similar to that of Timothy and Epaphras, and and he clearly considered Tychicus to be a co-laborer in the gospel ministry to the Gentiles. This man’s friendship and fellowship in the service of Christ was so valuable to Paul that he sent Tychicus to replace Timothy so that Paul’s son in the faith could join him in Rome. Paul told the churches of Ephesus and Colosse that Tychicus would encourage their hearts, and I have no doubt that it gave Paul great peace knowing that his close friend would strengthen their faith and build them up in the Lord. Of all of the unsung heroes in Scripture, Tychicus is one who deserves our attention.
What does the example of Tychicus reveal about the cost and benefits of friendship? The cost of true friendship is loyalty, as Scripture clearly states (Prov. 17:17; 18:24), and it was the loyal companionship and ministry of Tychicus which earned him Paul’s respect. One thing is clear when we consider how Paul related to his companions, that loyalty and dependability in the face of persecution was of primary importance. Tychicus had proven his reliability so that Paul could call him a “faithful minister,” literally a deacon worthy of trust. And the benefits of friendship flow out of its cost, namely, confidence and a peaceful spirit. We can be confident that one who has proven himself loyal will faithfully represent us to others and fulfill his word to us, bringing peace of mind and rest to our spirit. Because he had weathered persecution alongside Paul, Tychicus earned the opportunity to represent him in service to the churches of Asia. As I consider the example of Paul’s faithful friend, I am so very thankful for the friends that God has given me, especially those who have proven their loyalty through testing and trial. True friendship is a priceless gift.