“So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.”
Real growth requires real relationships.
Paul is making his closing comments in the letter to the Ephesians, and he gets very personal. Paul knows the Ephesians are concerned about his welfare, so he lets them know that Tychicus will tell them how he and the other Christians in Rome are faring.
Paul refers to Tychicus as a “beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord.” The book of Acts tells us that Tychicus, an Asian, had been chosen to accompany Paul and the others in taking the relief offering to Jerusalem. He was also with Paul during his first Roman imprisonment, and was frequently sent on missions by the apostle (2 Tim. 4:12; Titus 3:12).
Most importantly, Paul says he is sending Tychicus so that “he may encourage your hearts.”
Do not miss the importance and power of this short phrase at the end of Ephesians. The word Paul uses here for “encourage” is parakaleo, which means “come alongside.” A version of this word is used to describe the Holy Spirit in the gospel of John. Jesus told the disciples:
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14.16-17).
The word for “Helper” is parakletos. It is sometimes translated “Comforter.” Again, the literal meaning is “one who comes alongside.” What a powerful description of the Holy Spirit!
Paul is saying to the Ephesians that he is sending one of his most trusted brothers to “come alongside your hearts” in order to inform, instruct, encourage, and give strength. This is how true Christian community works. This is deep fellowship and brotherhood (and sisterhood).
This is what it means to be an ambassador for Christ. The Lord ministers to others through us, and he ministers to us through others. We are his agents to specific people in our lives, and there are others that are his agents to us.
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10.24-25)
The primary way we grow in Christ is when someone “comes alongside our heart.” Sermons, bible studies, and worship services are great (and necessary), but we grow when we are in deep fellowship and relationship with people who come alongside, speak truth into our lives, and encourage our hearts.
“Encourage (parakaleo) one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3.13)
This parakaleo does not happen in large groups. It happens in small groups and one-on-one relationship. Jesus himself applied this strategy. Jesus spoke to the masses, but he invested personally and deeply in a small group of twelve disciples.
Encouraging each other is essential to spiritual growth. Every Christian should make it a priority to give and receive encouragement.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5.11)