April 16, 2018
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.
Before we leave this celebrated letter let’s remember its celebrated author. Paul wrote the church in Ephesus from a Roman prison cell. It had to be one of his final letters and he must have known it.
One of the most enduring and important letters ever written in the history of the world was written at perhaps the lowest moment in the history of Paul.
We wouldn’t know things were going to badly for Paul from reading his letter. He references the incomparably Great power of the Gospel for we who believe and of the ability of God to do far beyond all we can ask or even imagine by his power at work within us. He writes of the enormity of the riches of the Heavens at the fingertips of the followers of Jesus. All of this yet Paul is locked up in chains in a dank prison cell in the most powerful city of the most powerful Empire by the most powerful ruler in the World.
What must this have been like for Paul? He could not know his short letters to his several small churches would become the most read documents in the history of history. He intended his letters to be shared among the several churches he served, but in his wildest imaginings he wouldn’t have grasped that they would ultimately find their way to billions of people in millions of churches.
No vision, mission or strategic plan could even remotely fathom such an outcome. Paul shows us the Gospel doesn’t advance by strategic plans but by surrendered servants. They locked him up but they could not shut him down. They could imprison the man but they could not confine the Gospel. “Woe to me,” he said, “if I do not preach the Gospel” (see 1 Corinthians 9:16).
He shows us when the chips are down and you are not sure you will live to see the next year you can still write the next letter. The gospel advances on the abandonment of its servants.
None of us know what is next in our lives, though most all of us live in the illusion that we do. We could be riding the highest high today and hit the lowest low tomorrow. It doesn’t matter. History will not remember our circumstance unless Heaven records our obedience.
When our circumstances do not make sense, the only interpreter will be our obedience. Our job is to do the next good thing; which is the next God thing. Write the letter. Make the call. Give the money. Sponsor the child. Help the stranger. Forgive the debt. Quit your day job. Take the journey. Forgive your enemy. Lay down your life for your friend. Throw the nets out into the deep water, where you know there can’t possibly be any fish. Step out of the boat and walk on water. Deliver the mail.
P.S. And thanks, Tychicus!
Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who only said what he heard you saying and who only did what he saw you doing. Thank you for showing us this same thing in the Apostle Paul. Would you let the same thing be said of our lives. That will be enough. In Jesus name, amen.
1. What do you appreciate about the Apostle Paul?
2. What circumstance in your life (now or in the past) presented what seemed like an impossible barrier to fulfilling God’s plan?
3. What does the next good thing look like in your life right now—despite what may be in the way?
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J.D. Walt, Sower-in-Chief for Seedbed, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.