7Tychicus is the dear friend, who faithfully works and serves the Lord with us, and he will give you the news about me. 8I am sending him to cheer you up by telling you how we are getting along.9Onesimus, that dear and faithful follower from your own group, is coming with him. The two of them will tell you everything that has happened here.
10Aristarchus is in jail with me. He sends greetings to you, and so does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. You have already been told to welcome Mark, if he visits you.11Jesus, who is known as Justus, sends his greetings. These three men are the only Jewish followers who have worked with me for the kingdom of God. They have given me much comfort.
12Your own Epaphras, who serves Christ Jesus, sends his greetings. He always prays hard that you may fully know what the Lord wants you to do and that you may do it completely.13I have seen how much trouble he has gone through for you and for the followers in Laodicea and Hierapolis.
14Our dear doctor Luke sends you his greetings, and so does Demas.
15Give my greetings to the followers at Laodicea, especially to Nympha and the church that meets in her home.
16After this letter has been read to your people, be sure to have it read in the church at Laodicea. And you should read the letter that I have sent to them.
17Remind Archippus to do the work that the Lord has given him to do.
18I am signing this letter myself: PAUL.
Don't forget that I am in jail.
I pray that God will be kind to you.
Have you ever been on a trip or camping experience which involved shared adversity? Our church small group once went camping for a long weekend. Some were not hardened campers and were there under sufferance. We all had young kids. It rained and rained. We had no group shelter. It was wet and cold. Eventually we rigged up some tarpaulins over picnic tables. We played games and kept happily busy for three days. Finally the sun emerged and we dried out. We still have fond memories of that weekend. We had suffered and survived together. We had bonded and our relationships had deepened.
In his final greetings Paul mentions a number of friends who he has suffered and survived with. Paul knows them and their hearts intimately. They have shared experiences in ministry and suffering. Consequently they have built long lasting, deep relationships which have survived distance and time. Paul has no hesitation in passing on greetings and commending them to one another. Paul is confident that the fellowship he has shared with each of them will be mutually enjoyed and appreciated by the others. This is the fellowship of the saints, enjoyed by Christians around the world, who are faithfully serving their Saviour.
Are you finding this type of fellowship at present? Are your Christian involvements, along with others, leading you into challenging and stretching situations in which you are forced to lean on one another as together you learn to build trust in God. Are you letting “iron sharpen iron” (Proverbs 27:17)? Seek out fellowship like this, in which your mutual focus on pleasing God leads you into areas of shared experience, requiring a deeper, more satisfying trust in him. Our reward is a deeper relationship with God and sweet fellowship with those who are travelling the road with us. There is nothing sweeter or more memorable.
Father God, I confess that my life is often focused on self-preservation and comfort rather than seeking out your best way forward. Help me to find friends who will encourage me to please you with all of my life. I know this is where I will find my deepest human relationships and most fulfilling service of you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.