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The Importance of Friends
Colossians 4:7-18
Rev. Dr. Ernest Brodie Jr.
Friends are important for successful leadership and ministry. Leadership qualities begin early and continue throughout life. Strong leadership makes a difference and is necessary for organizations and individuals to prosper and move their goals forward. It includes: 1) Enlisting those who are more skilled in areas you may be lacking, and 2) Working with those who are being trained. Effective leaders should always be training the next generation of possible leaders and preparing them for leadership. 
In Colossians 4:7-18, the Apostle Paul illustrated why it is important to have friends and partners in the ministry:
1.  Encouragement. 2 Timothy 1:16: “The Lord give mercy to the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed  me, and was not ashamed of my chain.” Encourage (parakaleo) is used 105 times in the New Testament. Encouragement is not to be confused with trying to be nice or attempting to make someone feel good about themselves. Biblical encouragement involves giving others counsel and support to do that which honors God. Ephesians 4:1-3: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
2.  Fellowship (koinonia). Fellowship is having a commonality in Christ as a result of our salvation. We enjoy sharing what God has done. His message brings joy, unity, and a sense of family. 1 John 1:3-6: “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.”
3.  Accountability. We need to provoke one another to be and do better and also remind each other of our commitment to Christ. It is easy to get lazy in our study of God’s Word and in our ministry. Being part of a team helps keep us accountable. We need to “consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). Hebrews 3:13: “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
4.  Collaboration (teamwork). The work of an effective ministry requires people with a variety of spiritual gifts. This is not just to make work lighter, but to accomplish set goals. No one can do it all. 1 Corinthians 12:22: “Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary.”
5.  Biblical pattern. Even God said: “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Jesus sent out his disciples in twos. Examples from the Old Testament: Moses and Aaron, David and Jonathan, Elijah and Elisha.
People who surrounded Paul and helped in his ministry to the Colossians:
1.  Tychicus  (Colossians 4:7-8) - “Who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord.” Paul sent him to work with and comfort the Colossians.
2.  Onesimus (Colossians 4:9) - “A faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you.” He had formerly been a runaway slave of Philemon, but his life was changed, and he was willing to return to Philemon. Paul was even willing to repay Philemon’s losses.
3.  Aristarchus (Colossians 4:10) - “My fellowprisoner saluteth you.” He was a man with a past, but he had been redeemed by God. This shows the importance of a prison ministry.
4.  Marcus (Colossians 4:11a) - “Sister’s son to Barnabas.” He was the source of a conflict between Barnabas and Paul (Acts 16). Mark 14:51-52 tells of Mark’s presence in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he was almost captured, but he broke free and ran away naked. Mark later wrote the Book of Mark. Paul later recognized him as useful for the ministry (2 Timothy 4:11). God took a seemingly useless individual and made him of great value. Do not give up on those who are still learning or who fail. God can restore them and use them.
5.  Justus (Colossians 4:11b) - “My fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.” Justus was a Jewish believer in Christ.
6.  Luke (Colossians 4:14) - “The beloved physician.” He was a Gentile physician who often accompanied Paul. He wrote the books of Luke and Acts.
7.  Demas (Colossians 4:14b) was a negative example. One Paul did not praise. Paul spent time training him, but he left Paul. “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia” (2 Timothy 4:10).
8.  Archippus (Colossians 4:17) - “Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.” He was not with Paul at this time, but was given instruction to carry out the work of the ministry.
Effective leadership involves teamwork, especially with good friends. Hindrances to being on the team would be lack of availability, sin, pride, or an unwillingness to sacrifice. God does not use those who do not lay all before Him. Every believer has the responsibility to share Christ. Churches grow when individuals reach out to the unsaved.