tychicus I have sent to ephesus. [2 timothy 4:12]
paul sent tychicus, his friend, to ephesus. these are the words he used to describe his friend in colossians 4:7 –
beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.
to paul, this man was: loved, family, and a fellow warrior in the trenches. and because paul sent out tychicus (and crescens and titus vs 9), he is basically alone in his imprisonment in rome. sending is the LORD’s command. (matt 28:19; john 3:17; john 20:21; acts 1:8) and, paul, was obedient to this command sending out his friends. no doubt, the sending of his friend and fellow warrior was hard, and no doubt, being alone in prison was painful and lonely. sometimes obedience is hard, painful, and lonely. do you know this first hand?
do you find yourself in a place today that is not pleasant (lonely, painful, hard) because you have been obedient to the LORD? the enemy seeks to deceive your heart in these moments. he will get you to say, “why LORD? i have obeyed. i have followed you. and, this is what i get. why?”
the gospel of Jesus Christ says we obey FROM our place and acceptance in Christ. we obey FROM our love, our sonship / daughtership, our complete acceptance. we do not obey FOR it. when you find yourself saying this is unfair after you have been obedient. you are saying you are obeying FOR something. when the enemy causes you to doubt the fairness of God in your obedience, he has convinced you to believe that you are living FOR your place with God, not FROM it.
if you find yourself in a hard, lonely, or painful place because you have been obedient, know that the LORD understands. he knows what it is like to obey and suffer in that obedience. he obeyed and suffered, not to gain the Father’s pleasure or acceptance. he obeyed and suffered FROM that pleasure.
and when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” [matthew 3:16–17]
this scene took place at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry before he had accomplished one miracle or suffered one beating, one abuse, or one nail for our sin. his Father, loved and was pleased with Jesus, not because of what he had done, but because of who he was – holy, God, his Son. FROM this love and pleasure, Jesus perfectly obeyed his Father.
what does that mean for us? glad you asked!
- as we are united with God by faith in Christ’s works, we receive the holy and loved character of Christ in us.
- this means God fully loves us, is pleased with us, and accepts us because of … wait for it … not anything we have done.
- so now, we can obey FROM God’s acceptance and love not for it.
FROM that place, we obey out of joy, love, and desire to please the one whom loves us fully and has given his Son for us. and, when obedience hurts, we remember, it hurt God too. he had to watch his Son go through obedient suffering for us. he knows that obedience can hurt, but he also knows that obedience has a purpose and joy when it is done FROM love and not for it.
pray today, that you keep walking in joyful obedience, even as it hurts. pray for the Spirit’s comfort and reminder that you obey FROM love and acceptance and not for it. and, pray for his reminder that all obedience has a purpose.
~ john ryan