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A Fond and Friend-Filled Farewell, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
April 11, 2022 7:05 am

A Fond and Friend-Filled Farewell, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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Today on Insight for Living from Chuck Swindoll. When I think of the importance of friendship, I think of companionship. I think of comfort. Remember my little motto I've shared with you on a number of occasions? Shared joy is a double joy. Shared sorrow is half a sorrow. The secret is in the sharing.

And the value of a friend is a person with whom you can share it. The joy and the sorrow. You've chosen a great day to listen because Chuck Swindoll is beginning the final message in his brand new study in Colossians. And as we arrive in the final verses of Paul's letter written to his friends while in prison, we discover several verses that are dripping with sentimental affection. And today on Insight for Living, Chuck helps us understand the context of Paul's personal remarks and what they teach us about relationships today.

Chuck titled this final message in the teaching series a fond and friend-filled farewell. The Word of God is alive and active and sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing of the soul and spirit the joints in the marrow and it is a discerner, it is a critic of the thoughts and the intentions of the heart. There is no book like the book of God. No other book can read your intention, can penetrate to your soul, to your spirit. No other book remains alive regardless of where you may turn in its pages. It is relevant, it is in touch, it is penetrating, it is real. And we are learning in our study of the Scriptures how valuable these pages, these writings, these truths can be.

And the subjects are so varied. For example, who would have thought that as we end the study in Colossians, the subject would be friendships, would be friends. But in 12 verses, as Paul wraps up his thoughts in the end of chapter 4, 10 people are named, some of whom you will never read anywhere else in the Bible. But each one is a friend of the Apostle Paul and played a significant role in his life.

Just as you and I could name to this group here, our friends and most others would not know most of them, if any of them. So it was with the Apostle. And God's Word tells us about these friends whom we're going to meet today, and we realize as we hear about them, the same could be said of some of our friends, and hopefully would be said of them.

I call this a fond and friend-filled farewell. You'll see why we've named it that as we read the passage for you. Turn, if you haven't already, to Colossians chapter 4 in the Word that is alive and active and sharp, and let us hear it read together. Beginning at verse 7 of Colossians 4 to the end of the letter, Tychicus will give you a full report about how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper who serves with me in the Lord's work. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you. I'm also sending Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, one of your own people. He and Tychicus will tell you everything that's happening here. Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings and so does Mark, Barnabas' cousin.

As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way. Jesus, the one we call Justice, also sends his greetings. These are the only Jewish believers among my co-workers. They are working with me here for the Kingdom of God, and what a comfort they have been. Epiphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God. I can assure you that he prays hard for you and also for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis.

Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings and so does Demas. Please give my greetings to our brothers and sisters at Laodicea and to Nymphah and the church that meets in her house. After you have read this letter, pass it on to the church at Laodicea so they can read it too. And you should read the letter I wrote to them. And say to Archippus, be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.

Here is my greeting in my own handwriting. Paul, remember my chains. May God's grace be with you. I have a friend who after reading through this passage of scripture said he could divide the group of people up into those friends who stayed and the one who prayed and another who strayed. I want you to think for a few moments about your circle of friends. How I pity you if you haven't a circle of them. You may not even know now how much you need them but one day you will realize and you will miss it if you have not cultivated them. Some will be very significant, deep, intimate friends.

There will only be a few. A number of those friends will be people you know fairly well. You know something of their lives and they of yours. A larger circle would be acquaintances. How important it is that we realize the value of our friends. When we are at death's door, we will all know, we will all know how important friends are.

You're listening to Insight for Living. To search the scriptures with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insightworld.org slash studies. And now the message from Chuck called A Fond and Friend-Filled Farewell. Word pictures are wonderful.

They move us from our present setting to another scene entirely and in our imagination we can picture them as they unfold and they take on dimensions that we would otherwise miss. When Carl Sandburg was writing his four-volume work on Lincoln the war years, he came to the 75th chapter in the fourth volume and searched for a title for that chapter. It happened to be the chapter that covered the events related to those hours and days that followed the assassination of our 16th president. It was a tumultuous time. As all of you are aware, Lincoln was criticized in a maddening way during his presidency. As people saw him in this way and that way and only a few really emerged as close friends but when he died, when he died, it is remarkable what happened around the world. Through the wire came messages and through the lips of friends and those who had held back came words that all described what a man he had been and how great his character. Sandburg realizing all of this chose interestingly a word picture from a woodsman's proverb familiar to those in that day and he titled that 75th chapter, a tree is best measured when it's down. The word picture is obvious. You cannot measure a tree at its full height, not really.

It has to fall and then you're able to measure it and study it and see it up close as those in that day realized and did after the death of Abraham Lincoln. When I read those words again I was reminded of a line from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's great work, though not known by many, titled Youth and Age. In it is the poem, not cared this body for wind or weather when youth and I lived in it together. And then a little later on he inserts a word picture somewhat similar to the Sandburg quote. Friendship is a sheltering tree. Same word picture but different.

Think about it. A large stately tree, a massive oak that stands and the trunk shields you, shelters you from the wind that blows and the harsh blizzard of winter and then the leaves that appear on the branches that reach out. The tree becomes a sheltering thing, shelters you from the blistering rays of the summer sun. Friendship is like that.

It's a sheltering tree. My heart goes out to any of you who haven't friends. I mean a circle of friends that meet many needs in the realms of your life that a family member can't meet. Someone who gets to know you because you allow that and you in turn get to know them. They know your weaknesses, they know your struggles, they understand the times when you can't put thoughts into words and other times when you say more than you should and you don't want anyone else to hear them. But a friend hears all of that.

It's like the piece written by Dinah Creek. Oh the comfort of the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words but pouring them all right out just as they are, chaff and grain together. Certain that a faithful hand will take them and sift them, keeping what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away. Friends do that. When I think of the importance of friendship, I think of companionship, I think of comfort. Remember my little motto I've shared with you on a number of occasions? Shared joy is a double joy, shared sorrow is half a sorrow. The secret is in the sharing and the value of a friend is a person with whom you can share it, the joy and the sorrow.

And then there is along with that comfort that comes when we have reached the end of our rope. I was waiting for my car to be serviced this past weekend and while sitting in a little waiting room I noticed there was a Wall Street Journal lying there on a table in front of me and I had just reached over and pulled up one of the sections and the lead article of that section was written by a man who tells the story, true story, of the dying years of his father. His father was suffering from Alzheimer's and little by little the shades were drawing. Day by day the distance was increasing between this man and his daddy and he drops a line in the article, I wish I would have written it but I failed to do so, where he describes the importance of a friend and he says there were friends who came that I didn't even know my father had and what a comfort they were and what a help and companion they became to my daddy who finally died.

And I thought about that. And I thought about men who are notorious for not cultivating friends. Alan Loy McGinnis in a fine book titled The Friendship Factor writes of this, I've discovered that friendship is the springboard to every other love. People without friends usually have a diminished capacity for sustaining any kind of love. They tend to go through a succession of marriages. They tend to be estranged from various family members.

They have trouble getting along well with people that work. Then he adds, some of America's leading psychologists and therapists were asked how many men have real friends. The bleak replies were not nearly enough and too few. Most guessed at 10%. 10% of the men who had been a part of their practice had friends. Then he adds, few males have been allowed the luxury of openness and vulnerability in a relationship. They're not aware of the gaping void in their emotional lives.

Think of it. If McGinnis is right, 90% of us men have not cultivated friends. Paul would have been in the 10%. As a matter of fact, the friends in Paul's life are sort of saved up to the end of his letters. When you get to the end of Romans, there are 30 and more names mentioned, most of whom you don't know, we've not read about, but they're well known to the apostle.

And you get to this little letter of Colossians and he's written of the majesty of Christ and he is our all in all and the significance of our savior and the importance of his presence as we work our way through life and then he gets to the end and he gets very personal, almost nostalgic, as he names 10 individuals, men and women, in these 12 verses. And again, we look at them and we blink and we think, where have they been? It's as if you or I were to tell everyone in this listening audience, our friends.

Most of them, I think for some, none of them would be known by others, but they're known by us. And they play an invaluable role as our sheltering tree. And when our tree is down and they measure us, it will be interesting to know the importance of friendships as we lived our lives.

I can tell you without hesitation that some of the people I would name would be the reason I stand where I stand today. And I have the ministry that I've been granted today. Those men poured themselves into my life. They believed in me long before I had any reason to believe in myself.

They understood me. They realized strengths and weaknesses and they cultivated one and they warned me about others. The contribution they have made would be like Tychicus and Onesimus and Aristarchus and Mark and Justice and Epaphras and Luke and Demas and Nephi and Archippus in Paul's life.

Now you see why that's significant. As we work our way through these verses, let's kind of divide these names so that we have them in categories. And the outline I gave you provides a place for you to note that. I put them in three groups, two and then six and then the last two would make up the ten. First there are the two friends who carried this letter to the church at Colossae. They're mentioned in verses seven, eight and nine.

They were the ones, because there was no postal service in the first century, they took the document, they made sure it was safe, they put it in the pouch, they carried it with them literally from Rome over to the little, we would call little, to the town of Colossae. They're named for us. Verses seven, eight and nine. When you get to verse ten, the category changes to those six who remained with Paul in Rome. They're there to comfort and to be his companion. The more you learn of them, as we will today, though each biography will be painfully brief, the more you learn, the more you realize why they meant something to the apostle.

Because remember he's chained to a Roman soldier, he's under house arrest, he hasn't the freedom to take an evening walk through the streets of Rome or to enjoy the beauty of the change of the seasons. He is in a house and he is literally bound to a soldier who had the duty to guard this prisoner while he's awaiting trial. These six mentioned in verses ten through fourteen are the ones who stayed right there with him.

One was even a fellow captive. We'll meet him in a moment. The last two, Nymphae and Archippus, were two who lived in Colossae, whom the apostle and others with him greet. They will be the recipients of the letter that is sent to them and carried to them by Tychicus and Onesimus, the letter that Paul has written named Colossians. At the end of it all is a very touching moment, very intimate moment where Paul personally takes the stylus in hand and though manacled, signs his name with his own signature. If we were able to have a copy of the original Greek document on which Paul wrote this letter in Koine, common Greek, we would see that the penmanship changes at what we call verse eighteen. The end of the letter, it is Paul's own hand that he writes with his own penmanship and then adds a couple of thoughts that are so meaningful for him and the people in Colossae. Now then, with that as a background, let's meet these ten people.

First, the two who carried the letter. Tychicus will give you a full report about how I am getting along. So, who is Tychicus? You will see three things about him as you read on. First, he is a beloved brother, so he's a much loved and admired friend in the faith. Second, he is faithful.

See the word? He is a beloved brother and faithful, so he is consistent and loyal and trustworthy and reliable in his ministry. That's why he would be trustworthy to take the letter from Paul in Rome and to get it all the way into Asia where Colossae is located. And then third, we notice in this same verse, he is a helper who serves with me in the Lord's work. He is a fellow servant, literally a fellow doulos, slave. We are both slaves of Christ, he is a fellow slave. Now, let me give you a little tip here because some of you are serious about Bible study, others of you are not and you're already bored, but that's okay.

I understand. I spent years in my life bored before I realized how stupid I was to be bored when the scriptures were being taught, no offense. But for you who are on the edge of your seat loving this, you need to have in your possession a concordance.

Remember the word? It's a volume that includes alphabetically all of the names of people that appear in the scriptures and all of the words that appear so that you can see when you look up the name Tychicus every time his name is mentioned in the scriptures. I have a concordance that is about threadbare, so I have another concordance that's getting there and I just got a new concordance. A concordance is invaluable if you want to do serious study in the scriptures. You're listening to Insight for Living. To learn more about Chuck Swindoll and this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. Well, looking up a word that's included in the Bible is easy to do online, but many of us enjoy owning a tangible book that helps us search for words in the Bible.

As Chuck Swindoll just mentioned, it's called a concordance. If you want to add a physical copy of this study tool to your collection, you'll be pleased to know that Insight for Living offers an exhaustive concordance of the New American Standard Bible version through our online store. To grab yours, give us a call. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. In addition, Chuck has written a complete commentary on Colossians. And this is one of the last times we'll mention this resource because Chuck's teaching series will conclude on Wednesday of this week.

Chuck's Living Insights commentary on Colossians can be purchased right now when you go to insight.org slash offer. Well, many of us have shed a few tears over the travesty in Ukraine as innocent people, including our brothers and sisters in Christ, have been brutally attacked. So let's continue to pray for all citizens of this region who feel oppressed and in physical danger. You'll be encouraged to hear that the Ministry of Insight for Living touches people who live in this part of the world. Through the Bible teaching you've come to enjoy on this program, through the devoted staff that live in that region of the world, and through the additional resources we provide, we count it a privilege to serve Eastern Europeans.

As part of Vision 195, Chuck's Bible teaching is translated into eight different languages, including Polish and Romanian. And these ministries are made possible in part when you give a much needed donation to Insight for Living. To give a gift today, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or give online at insight.org slash donate. To give a donation today, visit us online at insight.org slash donate. I'm Bill Meyer, inviting you to join us again next time when Chuck Swindoll continues to describe Paul's fond farewell to the Colossians on Insight for Living. The preceding message, a fond and friend-filled farewell, was copyrighted in 2014 and 2022, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-09 00:56:43 / 2023-05-09 01:05:12 / 8

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