I once wasted years longing to be someone else — praying for different strengths and invisible weaknesses.
Now I only waste hours here and there. It takes a cloak of grace to be yourself, and I have only worn it well when Christ Himself has wrapped it around me. Even then, it never seems to fit just right.
Maybe you’ve felt the same, and that’s why there’s someone in these verses we need to meet:
Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts…They will tell you of everything that has taken place here. Colossians 4:7-9
These verses jerk us right out of three chapters of theology and to-dos, and right back into prison with Paul as he writes: Tychicus will tell you all about my activities…he will tell you of everything that has taken place here.
Paul isn’t free to go to the Colossians himself. Paul is likely chained to a soldier day and night, just like he was when he wrote to the Philippians. Paul, like many prisoners, can’t speak freely of his conditions or his imprisonment in this letter. And so we meet Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.
For someone we know very little about, Tychicus pops up quite a few times in the New Testament. He’s mentioned in Acts, Ephesians, 2 Timothy, and Titus, as well as here in Colossians. He’s alluded to as sort of an interim pastor at times, jumping in for Titus and Timothy when Paul needed them to leave their churches and come to him. Tychicus is known only in passing, simply and unceremoniously, as a messenger and friend.
For all the things we don’t know about Tychicus, though, here is something we do know: he lived his life for Christ quite differently than Paul.
Tychicus was not preaching and teaching either as openly or effectively as Paul was, or he would probably have been jailed along with the Apostle (as Aristarchus was, Colossians 4:10).
He was a Gentile in Asia when he heard the gospel that changed his life — most likely with a background that included idolatry and occultic practices — the opposite of Paul in experience and pedigree (Acts 19:21-41, 20:1-4).
He hand-delivered truth instead of writing it — followed directions instead of led — had the quiet wisdom and skill to be known as a friend of the loud and bold Apostle without landing himself in chains.
Tychicus was able to travel under the radar and be there in person, bringing the whole truth of Paul’s faithful life and fully encouraging the hearts of the churches (Ephesians 6:21-22).
Ultimately, this Tychicus could do things — say things — that even the famous Paul could not.
And so we’re back to us, and the things we hate about the history we can’t shake, or the present role or circumstances we don’t like or understand, or the future we can’t seem to change.
Paul is how Colossians was written. Tychicus is how we’re reading it. You and I have this portion of God’s holy Word because of an unsung nobody who responded to grace and gave what he had — gave who he was. You and I are part of God’s Church — here today because ancient people were encouraged to cling to faith and hand it down through the generations — because Tychicus worried about his obedience more than his identity.
What matters is not who we are, but how we surrender.
Tychicus has his reward, and we — if we remain faithful, beloved servants — we will have ours.