Acts 20:4-7 (NKJV) 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. These men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas. But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days. Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.
There are five important elements of Christian Growth that we find in Acts 20. Those are Accountability, Encouragement, Companionship, Hope, and Comfort. Over the next few months, we’ll continue to take a look at these five things. We’ve already looked at Accountability, and Encouragement. Today, we look Companionship.
Paul was many things, but he was not a one man show. We can get the impression that all of what we read from Acts 13 forward was Paul … and, yes, he was very much the leader, but he could not have done any of it alone. Paul of course relied on the Lord, and he also relied on co-workers in the ministry. A very important part of Encouragement is “we.” You guys cannot imagine how it blesses me when someone asks a question or makes a statement about the church and uses the word “we.” It’s amazing how much those little things can mean. I’m encouraged when I see people coming in early on a Sunday morning to get the building ready. That’s something I’d like to see more of, so that we can all be done getting the building ready so that we have time to fellowship and great visitors before service starts. “We” means a lot to people who are visiting a church. If they walk in and feel that it’s just them because everyone is busy doing prep work, their first impression is one of being alone. “We” is very important to the church body. Paul called the brethren together, embraced them, encouraged them, and they continued on as a team.
Troas is a lands journey to the north of Ephesus and across the Aegean from Philippi. The team, on Sunday, the first day of the week, came together, which was their habit to do and they broke bread together. This is the first we find of the early church meeting together on Sunday. In this case we find that they met in the evening, but that would make sense because Sunday was a regular working day for them. So, we find them gathered and partaking of the supper together. We might call this koinonia. Koinonia is a Greek word for participation on an intimate level. Our koinonia with one another is based on our common koinonia with Jesus and it is from our love of Jesus that our agreement in service springs forth. Each one of us have different issues. Some of us are angry, perhaps we hide it well. Some of us are frustrated, and we hide it.
Some of us are bitter, and we hide it. Still others are joyful, cheerful, enthusiastic about life … Some of us hide that, too. Some of us are on a spiritual mountaintop and we feel like God is speaking to us every day. Others of us feel as though we are in a dark valley and God is no longer speaking to us. We remember the green pastures that Jesus once led us to. But now the grass has been replaced with rocks and the fields are gone. Yet the Bible says that Jesus takes us to both places … He is our Shepherd in the valley of the shadow of death just as He is in the green pastures. His plans for us are good everywhere that He leads us. There is purpose in both places. We are blessed in both places. We grow in God in both places. And it’s in the valley that we have the opportunity to minister to the multitudes. But it’s also a difficult place … I know that because I’m so often there. Yet, I rarely talk about it. To be honest, I’m there right now. The point is that we are all together in fellowship and yet we may not even know what one another is going through. Someone once said, “One can endure sorrow alone, but it takes two to be glad.” I can’t do it alone. You can’t do it on your own. We need each other.
The third of the five elements of Christian Growth is Companionship. We share a common bond through faith in Christ … koinonia, the oneness of the Body of Christ. We must commit ourselves to those things that God tells us go along with that bond.
What are those things?
1) First, we have a responsibility to consider one another, how our actions or words might affect one another. Are we inspiring one another to temptation or to love and good works? Are we acting out of selfishness or selflessness? Are we loyal or willing to slight another to get ahead?
2) Secondly, we have a responsibility to forgive one another. I don’t know about you, but I can make mistakes and sometimes I make mistakes that hurt others. We must be willing to ask forgiveness, give forgiveness and receive forgiveness. We should also strive to make things right.
3) Finally, we have a responsibility to serve one another. Fellowship is not just hanging out having witty conversations. Fellowship happens when leaders serve and servants lead.
Romans 12:9-13 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
There is a difference in the communion of the world and the communion we share together in Christ. The world feeds ON one another. We don’t have to look far to see the vindictive pattern of the world … to see the backbiting, the hate, the hurtful sarcasm, the lack of integrity and lack of loyalty. The world feeds ON one another, but Christians feed OFF of each other. Like coals in a fire, the heat of one preserves and keeps the fire burning in another.