Summary: Real Christian disciples and real love are hard to find even in the church.
I had a best friend from Junior high through high school. We did everything together except play hockey. We shared everything with each other, I don’t think I had a great experience as a teenager that he didn’t have with me. Have you ever had a friend like that? Where you felt like you had the same soul, the same mind, even when you were fighting.
Well I moved away for four years, and when I came back, we picked up right where we left off, no awkwardness or needing to reunite, we just started doing what we always did. Then a couple years later he moved away and we became adults with careers and started down different paths, especially spiritually. The only things we have shared in the past fifteen years are one phonecall and one email. It’s just not there anymore.
I don’t know many people who have had friendships like that as adults, guys anyway. There is an intimacy with our spouses but it’s different, deeper in some ways, but different. I have concluded that the only way to have this kind of friendship is when you share the same spiritual heart. As kids we don’t have that defined very well so it’s easier to connect on that level, but the older we get the harder it seems to find that kind of match.
In our text today, Paul is talking about this kind of friendship and I would like to help us see what it was that caused Him and Timothy to be “soul mates”. Then to show what a real brother or sister in Christ is like through the example of Epaphroditus.
I. A soul mate shares our concerns and priorities (vv 19-24)
A soul mate has the same mind as us and this breeds:
A. Complete proven trust
You never have to worry about what the other person is going to say or do because you have learned that they are always on the same wavelength. In essence you share the same mind. You may have disagreements at times along the way about the means, but it is never about what you believe and what the ultimate goal is.
Let’s look at what the shared priorities are here between Paul and Timothy in verses 20 and 21. To be genuinely concerned for the welfare of the church and other Christians. To be committed to Christ and not their own interests. Good model for the church family isn’t it. Paul is showing us that it is this mind of Christ that both Paul and Timothy had, that brings us into union with others even when we may have no other common bond.
It is clear from this that we as Christians should all be “soul mates” with regards to our common purpose.
Paul says of Timothy that he has no one like him. Imagine how many people Paul met and discipled throughout his ministry, yet Timothy is the only one he has at this point that he can fully trust. The word used here is “isopsychos” which literally means “equal souled”. It is extremely rare to have one of these kind of friends throughout a lifetime. Slim Pickens.
When Paul says he will send Timothy, he has absolutely no reservations that Timothy will represent him well. He also says he trusts the Lord that he will also be able to come soon, and sure enough that happens, only to return to Roman prison for the last time a couple years later.
Soul mates also:
B. Compliment each other
Paul says in verse 22, “as a son with a father he has served with me in the Gospel”. Paul is much older than Timothy yet it was Timothy who was with Paul the most on his journeys, and helped him the most in his ministry. They probably had different personalities and roles that complimented each other, and it shows that you don’t necessarily have to be in the same generation to have this kind of friendship. Timothy was also quite timid and of course Paul was anything but, so there we see another way in which they complimented each other.
I remember my friend, he was shy and when we were in social situations I found myself being more confident and overcoming his shyness. I was normally shy as well, but for some reason I rose up when I was with him. At the same time he was strong willed and didn’t let anyone push him or anyone he cared about around, where I was kind of timid. It was like we were one person, I would speak for him, and he would stand up for me, maybe kind of like Aaron and Moses now that I think about it. Soul mates bring out the strengths in each other.