Tychicus will give you a full report about what I am doing and how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you. (NLT)
The following, largely unknown, quote is the final line of George Eliot’s book, Middlemarch:
“For the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
Middlemarch was published in 1871, many years after Paul described Tychicus in the final verses of his letter to the church at Ephesus, but it accurately describes this man who was one of Paul’s most trusted and faithful friends. We don’t know much about Tychicus, but we do know that he was essentially Paul’s “mailman”-he delivered the letters of Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and possibly 2 Timothy to their recipients-and it seems he never minded being the “unsung hero”. He was a constant, faithful companion throughout Paul’s ministry. He was willing and content to serve Paul and realized that, in doing so, he was ultimately serving God.
None of the five short New Testament passages about Tychicus includes a list of his accomplishments or successes. Paul doesn’t share stories about how his friend likely served him in many tangible, physical ways. He doesn’t highlight any THINGS that Tychicus did. He highlights Tychicus’ character. He describes him as “beloved” and “faithful”. He finds him trustworthy enough to send him to Ephesus for a specific purpose-to update and encourage the believers there. Paul doesn’t mention Tychicus’ education or jobs or successes because he doesn’t need to. Tychicus’ character provides all the credentials he needs.
Just a few days ago, I was speaking (read whining) to a friend about how some recent “good deeds” I had done had seemingly gone unnoticed and unappreciated. While I certainly didn’t think I had done them for the purpose of being thanked or appreciated, my annoyance at not receiving those things revealed otherwise. I have a lot to learn from Tychicus. All the good deeds I may think I’ve done-genuine or not-don’t matter to God nearly as much as my heart while I’m doing them. My heart reveals my character. It’s easy (and good!) for me to strive to emulate the godly examples of Joseph, or David, or Paul. But, honestly, I’m just one regular, ordinary person, and there aren’t many Josephs or Davids or Pauls out there. That’s why God included people like Tychicus in scripture: to remind me that He values my character more than my actions. He values steady faithfulness in the small things. He wants me to be aware of and satisfied with the fact that, ultimately, HE is the one I am serving.
I’m pretty certain George Eliot wasn’t thinking of Tychicus while writing the final lines of Middlemarch, but they can be easily applied. Paul’s “growing good” was largely dependent on and successful because of Tychicus’ “unhistoric” ministry and his “faithfully, hidden life”. Can the same be said of me?
Father, forgive my lack of character, my pride and shallow service done out of a desire for recognition rather than a desire to simply serve You. May You alone find me faithful in the small, seemingly unseen parts of every day, and may that be enough.