Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 7:2-18
The apostle Paul worked with a number of co-workers. He was originally sent out from the church in Antioch, together with Barnabas [Acts 13:1-4]. Later Silas and Luke joined Paul, and in the Book of Acts we find that the number of co-workers grew dramatically. “And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia—also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia” [Acts 20:4]. Epaphroditus and Titus were also Paul’s co-workers. Paul was certainly not a lone ranger!
It is dangerous to work alone in Christian ministry. Just consider how many times we find the phrase, “one another” in Scripture. Jesus sent the disciples out in twos. One of the remedies for Elijah’s collapse at the challenge of Jezebel [2 Kings 19:1] was to care for Elisha, to train him, and to be ambitious for him. In 1624 the English poet John Donne said, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” Several years ago I heard someone say that every Christian needs three close friends – a Barnabas who encourages them, a Paul who mentors them and a Timothy whom they disciple.
I always used to travel alone in the ministry in various areas of Asia, but particularly in Indonesia. One day a young Christian graduate approached me and asked to travel with me. We agreed to travel together for a year. I was nervous at first because I valued my privacy but I soon realised that having this young man with me was a tremendous blessing. Many times he had a word from the Lord that helped me in the ministry, and I often used to think that I was learning from him rather than him from me. Today he is recognised as one of the finest Bible teachers in the Southern Hemisphere.
The gifts that God had given to Titus complemented the gifts of Paul. The Corinthians felt comfortable sharing their hearts with Titus, and he in turn was able to comfort Paul with the churches response [verse 6]. In this way Titus was able to lift Paul when he had been struggling and in a very real sense was able to protect him. Here is the great value of a precious co-worker – one who has complementary gifts, minister’s comfort, strengthens and gives protection. Surely this is at the heart of genuine Christian fellowship
Why is it important that as Christians we don’t work alone but in fellowship with other like-minded believers?
Why do you think it is difficult for some people to work closely with others in the ministry?
Each Christian needs three people – a Barnabas who encourages, a Paul who mentors and a Timothy whom they disciple. Who are the people who fulfil these roles in your life?