Summary: Paul had many friends who helped him accomplish his mission. This sermon gives guidelines for choosing friends that will help you reach God’s goals for your life.
June 29, 2003 Colossians 4:7-18
“With a little help from my friends”
I spent Monday through Thursday of this week at Camp Monongahela. Of the 55 campers that we had, 30 of them were “first-timers”. Some of them knew no one when they arrived at camp, and others only knew those that they had been to church with. It was interesting to watch as they started to talk with one another and try to establish new friendships. Camp is a great place to find long-term friends since the majority of the people there are Christians.
Paul knew something about friends and the importance of making the right ones. Here in this last section of Colossians and as he nears what in all likelihood would be the end of his life, he talks about some of the friends that he had made along the course of his life and what they meant to him personally and for his ministry. Each friend that he mentions stands out because of some special ability or characteristic that they possessed. His friends were more than acquaintances; they were partners in ministry.
God used Paul to accomplish tremendous spiritual victories throughout his life. But Paul did not accomplish these things as a soloist. He was the leader of a team of close friends who worked as a team under the leadership and empowerment of their heavenly Father. Together, they accomplished far more than Paul could have ever accomplished on his own. He did not take the credit but gladly included his team in recognition for what had been able to be accomplished.
This past week at camp, at least two children received Christ as their Savior, other campers grew in their relationship with Him, and still others began their journey toward that all important relationship. Whatever was accomplished this week, the credit cannot go to any one person. It was only as the team worked together, each using their individual skills and bringing their unique personalities and characteristics to the tasks at hand, each depending on the power and direction of God’s Holy Spirit that miracles happened.
1. Choose friends that serve – Tychicus (vs. 7)
- I’m not talking about friends that will serve you, but friends that will serve God with you.
- every reference to Tychicus has to do with him being sent somewhere by Paul with a message; he was a messenger boy
- most people want to be served rather than being a servant
- I watched Anna be a servant this week (picking through the trash to find a retainer).
2. Choose friends that humble themselves – Onesimus (vs. 9)
– Not friends for you to humble or even friends that see it as their responsibility to keep you humble. I’ve got plenty of those.
– "You are familiar with Albrecht Durer’s famous painting "The Praying Hands," but do you know the story behind it? The painting was inspired by the sacrificial, loving acts of a friend. Durer and an older friend were struggling to make a go as artists. Recognizing Durer’s talent, the older man took a job to provide for both of them until Durer could complete his art studies. The work was labor, but he did it gladly for his friend. Finally, Durer made a sale. The money was enough to care for both of them for several months. Now his older friend could resume his painting, but the older man’s hands had become so stiff from the hard labor that he was unable to paint.
One day when Durer returned home, he found his friend in prayer, his work-worn hands folded reverently. Durer painted a picture of these hands, capturing them for ages to come as a memorial to the love and sacrifice of his older friend." (Frank Morgan, Jr. Keys To Unlock Yourself. Nashville : Braodman Press, 1985, pp. 75-76).
– The greatest humbling is when you seek forgiveness. Onesimus has sought forgiveness from his former master.
3. Choose friends that endure through tough times – Aristarchus (vs. 10)
– Everywhere that Aristarchus accompanied Paul, there was trouble. He got dragged through the city by an angry mob, he was there when the people of the city plotted to take Paul’s life, and he was there when a major storm caused Paul and all those with him to be involved in a shipwreck. And here, Paul refers to him as a “fellow prisoner”. If I had been Aristarchus, I would have chosen friends that didn’t get into so much trouble.
– “A true friend is like toothpaste, when it is put under pressure, it appears!”
4. Choose friends that comfort – Justus (vs. 11)
– A group of friends went deer hunting and paired off in twos for the day. That night one of the hunters returned alone, staggering under an eight-point buck.