Capitol Ministries’ long-term objective is to plant 50 ministries in 50 state capitols in addition to fostering ministries in local city and county governments throughout our nation. We are deliberate about this because we believe that not only is such a goal essential to the fulfillment of the Great Commission, but it is one of our nation’s greatest needs in terms of good governance. To paraphrase a famous William Penn quote, good governance flows from good hearts. Accordingly CapMin is intentional about achieving these ministry outposts—not only here in D.C. but at every level of the career path of a public servant. To be clear, our objective is not to change our form of government—our republic must remain institutionally separated from the church—but to build up in Christ the men and women who run our form of government.
It follows that we purpose to facilitate more men and women in public office who are mature in Christ—governing authorities who not only have the courage to fight the right battles but the strength, faithfulness, and perseverance to go the distance. This can only be achieved by maturing them in Christ. In John 17:17, Jesus said, “Sanctify them in truth; Your word is truth.” It follows that we need strong Bible teachers, evangelists, and disciplemakers at every level in the career path of public servants. To those of you who read these Bible study notes here in Washington D.C., we thank you for faithfully opening doors in your state capitols! Your partnership is so helpful and effective! I wish space would allow me to more personally thank those of you who have partnered with us in this way. You have been such good friends!
Paul, too, had such good, faithful friends. One was Tychicus. Paul trusted him with the most important of tasks: To personally deliver some of Paul’s original letters— the original autographa of Scripture—over hundreds of miles of perilous journey! How come? Like you, he was reliable and trustworthy in his partnership. Let’s drill down on this character quality this week.
I. THE FACT ABOUT FAITHFULNESS: FULFILLMENT
Near the end of his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul conveys some personal comments about his close friend and partner in ministry, Tychicus. From this narrative passage, we can glean important insights into the matter of faithfulness. Ephesians 6:21–22, wherein Paul is writing from his Roman imprisonment far away from the church at Ephesus that he originally founded, as recorded in the book of Acts, he states the following:
“But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts.”
“I have sent” is most accurate to the Greek. But note that in reality Tychicus had not been dispatched until after Paul wrote this letter, right? So how do you explain this seeming anachronistic statement? Paul (writing in Greek) is employing a tense known as the “Epistolary Aorist.” It is used when the writer desires to put himself in the place of the reader. Accordingly and more important to this study, note that Paul calls Tychicus “faithful” in the above quoted passage.
When we hear the word “faithful” today, our attention is often drawn to the context of marital fidelity. For sure, that is an accurate understanding of the biblical word usage. But as used here and illustrated in the life of Tychicus the character quality of faithfulness has a broader application. Stemming from the Greek word pistos, it means in the passive use of the verb (i.e., not acting but affected by the action of the verb) “trusted” or “reliable.” In contrast, apistos means “untrustworthy” or “not worthy of another’s confidence.” Theologically, faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit fully bequeathed by the Holy Spirit to and upon every believer at the point of salvation (cf. Galatians 5:22–23). It follows that faithfulness is a possessed quality by every true believer, a characteristic fruit of genuine followers of Christ, but one that nonetheless need be continually honed, matured, and developed in the sense of one’s progressive sanctification.
Characteristic reliability in our vertical relationship to God, as well as horizontally in our relationship to ministry partners is a requisite, indispensable quality that assures both great communion with God, and dependable reliability by others, equating to the consummate active and efficient fulfillment of God’s Great Commission mandate.
As noted, Paul was writing from prison in Rome as indicated by the preceding passage in Ephesians 6:20. Therein the passage begins with, “I am an ambassador in chains.” It was there that he penned what are commonly referred to as the Prison Epistles: Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon. It is interesting to note, and serves the purpose of this study, that many commentators believe that he wrote Colossians in close proximity to Ephesians, in that the Colossian epistle would also be delivered to Colossae by Tychicus. Colossians contains an epistolary aorist passage similar to the one under study.
“As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information. For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts; and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your number. They will inform you about the whole situation here.” (Colossians 4:7–9)
Each passage from the two epistles refers to Tychicus as a faithful man and indicate that Paul, who was unable to go because of his imprisonment, had sent Tychicus as an apostolic emissary to these churches on his behalf. How could it be that Paul could write in Philippians 1:12, “Now I want you to know brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.”? Only because of, in part, a faithful teammate like Tychicus!
Paul’s situation necessitated faithful, trustworthy ministry teaming in order to fulfill the Great Commission.
Part of God’s sovereign orchestration of Paul’s circumstances serve to illustrate for the reader of the New Testament (NT) his mature ability to effectively discern and wholeheartedly trust in another. In this case, it was a fellow worker, one who over many years had proven himself to be absolutely dependable. As such, Tychicus serves to personify Proverbs 13:17 and 25:13.
“A wicked messenger falls into adversity, but a faithful envoy brings health.”
Faithful people elicit positive outcomes in a myriad of ways.
“Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him.”
Having many ministry partners myself in California’s San Joaquin Valley, where much of our nation’s fruit is grown, it doesn’t take long to learn that every packing shed immediately chills freshly-harvested fruits and vegetables from hot summer orchards in order to preserve their contents. Solomon, writing the above Proverb, uses this agricultural analogy to beautifully portray in this case the value of a messenger preserving and protecting the contents of what he has been entrusted with. In both instances, the object of value remains unchanged and is preserved for consumption by the end user. Such a person, Solomon describes with the word faithful.
Note the summation of Tychicus’ character quality of faithfulness as illustrated by leading Ephesian’s commentator Harold Hoehner:
Later in his second Roman imprisonment, Paul sent Tychicus to Ephesus to relieve Timothy in order that Timothy could come to Paul (2 Timothy 2:4) and Paul sent either Tychicus or Artemas to Crete to relieve Titus so that Titus could visit Paul in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12). Tychicus, then, bore five [NT Bible book] letters (Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, 2 Timothy, Titus) and probably relieved two of Paul’s apostolic legates. It is no wonder that he was called a “beloved brother and faithful servant of the Lord.” Servant, “diakonos,” emphasizes the activity of the servant and in this case signifies faithfulness in his activities for the Lord.
The fact is, Tychicus’s faithfulness led to the fulfillment of the Great Commission in the first and second century.
The first mention of Tychicus is in Acts 20:4. Of Asian descent, he had been chosen by Paul to take the relief offering to Jerusalem. Therein was the start of a beautiful relationship; Tychicus was not only faithful, but this passage also informs us that he was available and teachable: three key ingredients for being used mightily by God.
II. THE FORMATION OF FAITHFULNESS: FRIENDLINESS
Next, let’s observe one particular means Paul used to evoke such high levels of faithfulness, availability, and teachability in others: Opposite of a military-culture chain of command, in the institution of the Church, Paul was collegial with those who served him, those whom he deemed his partners.
Having Paul as their leader, one gained a sense of personal value and importance, the sense of being on an equal footing.
Can that be said of you in your leadership style?
Paul says of Tychicus in this week’s passage, the beloved brother and faithful minister… What exactly does this first aspect of the statement mean? Commentator Edward Earle Ellis says:
“In this context the term ‘brother’ means not so much ‘fellow Christian’ (though Tychicus was obviously this, and the term has this meaning in v. 21) as [it does] ‘co-worker’ or ‘helper.’”
This is significant. In the world of ministry, Paul didn’t make people refer to him in some sense of hierarchical superiority; he didn’t insist on nor enforce personal titles. Rather he had a collegial, friendly relationship with those whom He discipled—even though he personified apostolic authority—his leadership style was not one of pulling out the org chart all the time. To do so even today is to telegraph personal insecurity with those whom you are leading. Merriam-Webster defines collegial as “marked by power or authority vested equally in each of a number of colleagues.” I realize there are problems with this leadership style wherein it tends over time to breed disrespect and license when it comes to those in authority, but such problems have more to do with the immaturity of those under a collegial boss than the leadership style of the boss. Nonetheless, common friendliness is an indispensable biblical-based component of effective leadership (with its inherent risks); it aids developing faithfulness amongst peers not only in ministry but in your work offices.
Motivation in work and ministry are enhanced when everyone on the team senses ownership and equal importance in achieving the task.
I hope you sense collegiality and friendliness in and from me as we attempt to launch and mature effective ministries not only in state capitols but the thousands of local city and county government offices throughout America. I count each of you as strategic partners and peers in our joint monumental effort to help create a movement for Christ amongst our nation’s governing authorities—from the start of office to the highest positions in office.
While the practice of friendship is no guarantee of developing faithfulness in another, it can certainly help. States Paul in Philippians 2:3, “regard one another as more important than yourselves.” Tychicus could be counted on to complete the smallest tasks and the most difficult. He was doctrinally solid and represented Paul well, being void of disloyalty, undermining comments of disrespect (cf. 1 Peter 2:18), and gossip. Paul took notice of that; and as a result God used Tychicus mightily in His kingdom work.
Taking this concept a step further, Paul had his personal weaknesses (cf. Romans 7) as we all do, and we know that collegiality requires transparency and thus a risk of vulnerability. It follows that Tychicus could have exploited Paul’s foibles and undermined or damaged his leadership. Instead Tychicus was characterized by grace and not rigidity in his demeanor, skill, and dispatch in and throughout his personal relationships. Undoubtedly he was mature in this regard having earned Paul’s highest level of trust. Keep in mind the enormity of this level of trust:
Tychicus was deemed seasoned enough to transport portions of the original New Testament!
Even today characteristic collegiality and grace foster and result in the building of trust with one another and consequentially our effective teaming together in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Unfortunately the shortage of such grace has resulted in many Christian leaders who are not friendly to their under workers—having been burned by others. In contrast may our partnerships in ministry, and in life in general, always be characterized by abundant grace. You, the many public servants in our D.C. Bible studies—White House Cabinet, Senate and House Members— are grace-filled, wonderful, effective, powerful partners in ministry! In faithful ministry partnership you are just as responsible for Capitol Ministries’ many successful ministry launches in America and throughout the world as are Danielle or yours truly. Your gracious spirits make for mature, fruitful friendships and an ensuing synergy to fulfill the Great Commission amongst political leaders around the world! What follows are further insights into faithfulness.
III. THE FOUNTAIN OF FAITHFULNESS: A FACET OF GOD
1 Thessalonians 5:24 and 2 Thessalonians 3:3 state the following:
“Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”
“But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”
To grow in Christlikeness means you and I must grow in God’s attribute of faithfulness. Let’s become increasingly, amazingly more like Him in this area of our lives! May it be said of us as Paul said Jesus said of him:
“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service.” (1 Timothy 1:12)
IV. THE FOSTERING OF FAITHFULNESS: FREQUENCY
Faithfulness must be cultivated and developed continually throughout our lives. In contrast the evil one is unfaithful and will continually tempt you to be unfaithful. The following passages depict this personal discipline.
“And not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart and whose spirit was not faithful to God.” (Psalm 78:8)
“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” (Luke 16:10)
We should be strict with ourselves to be faithful in very little things: Frequent, small victories become mental imprints to developing lifelong responses of faithfulness in the bigger spheres of life. Francis Schaefer used to say to us who lived in his Swiss chalet in Villars, Switzerland, (to live and learn at L’Abri house guests had to do home chores), “Did you clean behind the toilet?” The point of his frequent interrogation was this: Only God knows if you’ve cleaned behind the toilet!—and you must learn to be faithful to Him when no one else is watching—that is if you expect to be used by Him in ways significant.
V. THE FRUIT OF FAITHFULNESS: AFFIRMATION
We have learned that biblically speaking faithfulness is an intricate, key character quality that God is looking for in those whom He will use most significantly. It follows that faithfulness is something every public servant should not only ascertain about themselves, but also when considering hiring or promoting). With that in mind let us lastly turn our attention to the following passages that indicate the biblical connection between faithfulness and God’s reward.
“A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 28:20)
“Then I put Hanani my brother, and Hananiah the commander of the fortress, in charge of Jerusalem, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many.” (Nehemiah 7:2)
“And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?’” (Luke 12:42)
“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service.” (1 Timothy 1:12)
“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)
All of the above passages (I have purposefully repeated here in my outline 1 Timothy 1:12 because it is so profoundly insightful and sums up this Bible study) serve to affirm God’s sense of importance regarding your and my faithfulness. The above passages serve to strongly indicate that God rewards this quality if He finds it in you and me! Something I have noticed over several decades of ministry to public servants is how those who are faithful to represent Him boldly and lovingly while in public office, generally speaking, are rewarded by God! Do you seek His affirmation of your service in office? Are you faithful to Him having placed you in office? Is that the way you think about it? Then be faithful to His calling, His precepts and His people!
Do you believe He is the one who ultimately placed you in public office—or is it because (you think) you’re so smart?
Your answer to that will largely indicate your faithfulness to Him while in office.
Tychicus was a man who was faithful to God and to others. Subsequently, God blessed and strengthened him. Paul noticed that and entrusted him with the most important of tasks: personally delivering original autographa of Scripture over hundreds of miles of perilous journey! Why? He was deemed faithful! That is to say he was found to be reliable and trustworthy. Are you deemed faithful both by God and your peers? May that be said of us as we team to plant ministries amongst public servants throughout America and the world! Keeping the main thing the main thing while serving in office redounds to everlasting dividends in your account, to and for His glory! cm