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Surround yourself with the right people

on May 2, 2017 in 2017 | 0 comments

Surround yourself with the right people

By Ivan Ho  3 May 2017

 

Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica —Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the books, especially the parchments.

 

Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words. At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.

 

But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!
II Timothy 4:9‭-‬18 NKJV

 

Having the right people around your life will help you stay on course, for with every Luke, Mark and Titus, there’s always going to be Demas and Alexander. (2 Tim 4:9-15)

In the last days some will resist God’s words and oppose God’s works, others will abandon the faith to follow the world or follow deceiving spirits, or both.

In the kingdom of God, not everyone are supposed to be our friends, not everyone are meant to be our partners in destiny. Paul learnt that fact for himself through his years of serving the Lord in the ministry, through dealing with all sorts of people within the churches.

Only those who “love everybody” would try to befriend everyone, including the devil. Jesus says: “Love your enemy. Pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). He never says “associate with your enemy” or “partner with your enemy”! How some people would walk intimately with their enemies is something I could never comprehend!

 

Thieves and robbers

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.

 

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

 

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

John 10:1‭-‬10 NKJV

 

The thief comes only to do three things: steal, kill and destroy. Note that in this passage of the Bible, Jesus never mentions the devil. Rather, He says “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy”. Put into context in His preceding words, Jesus is actually talking about those who somehow found their way illegally into the church to be amongst the sheep. The thief isn’t the devil with horns in his head but someone who somehow managed to sneak inside the church, perhaps with the help of “love-and-hug-everyone-ministers”, without entering through the door of Jesus. Jesus Himself would not let the thieves in, but the idiots and hirelings of some churches would welcome them inside with open arms!

If you don’t know by now: not everyone in the church are supposed to be your friends or partners. If this is the only thing you learn through reading this, it could well save your life!

 

Of the ones Paul named in 2 Timothy 4, who are his partners, and who failed him?

 

Partners in destiny

1. Luke the faithful partner in destiny – “Only Luke is with me”.

While others were deserting Paul, Luke stayed with Paul to support him in God’s work. No matter what happens, these people will stay with you all the way because they are called to walk alongside you in your journey as well as share the works of ministries.

 

2. Mark the useful partner – “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.” 

Some people only work with those whom they click with or get along, but Paul wanted Mark to come along with him because the latter was useful for ministry. It’s not about who click with you which is kind of self focused but who fits in with God’s will and kingdom purposes that really matters. 

 

3.  Tychicus who was sent to other cities – And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.”

These are the ones who are sent to other nations and cities to plant churches, or strengthen the works that have been established. Tychicus was personally sent by Paul to Ephesus to strengthen the work that he had started over there. Tychicus was still labouring and partnering with Paul and under the latter’s leadership and guidance.

 

4. Carpus the faithful helper – Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the books, especially the parchments” . 

How we need the Carpus type of people around us. They are the ones who may not be seen in the public platform but are just as important in contributing to the works of God by helping others with their needs. They are the unsung heroes who seldom get credits but God uses them greatly nevertheless.

 

Seasonal partners

5. Crecens and Titus the seasonal partners – “Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia”. 

While Demas had forshaken Paul for he loved the world, Paul did not give specific reasons why Crecens and Titus had gone to other cities instead of continuing their missionary journey with him. I call them seasonal partners, those who journey with us for a season but are called to other cities or ministries and therefore not able to continue their journey with us. We should thank God for all the seasonal partners in our life and stay connected with them if possible.

 

Defectors

5. Demas the defector – “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica.” 

These are the ones who used to partner with you, fellowship with you, labour with you in doing God’s works. However, over time they are drawn away by the attractions of the world, led astray by all kinds of temptations which appeal to their fleshly desires. Others follow deceiving spirits, false doctrines and deceptive people. They once walked with you but somehow dropped out and abandoned their faith in God. During Paul’s life, Demas was a sad story who loved the world more than he loved God. We need to pray for the Demases in our lives and hope that they would one day come to their senses and return to God and His destiny for them.

 

Resistors

Alexander the resistor – “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words.”

The resistors are the most harmful people around us that we need to distance ourselves from. They are the ones who constantly oppose and challenge you when you share God’s words.  It’s one thing when people challenge you, it’s quite another when they resist God’s words! The resistors are those who reject certain part of the words of God and publicly oppose God’s messengers and prophets.

We need to beware the resistors around us and, like Paul, name and warn others not to associate with them. Those who reject God’s words are one of the most destructive forces within the churches.

Paul did pray about Alexander, but his prayer was: “Lord, repay Alexander according to his works”. When one opposes the word of God, it is the Lord whom he or she opposes, so God Himself will deal with them accordingly. We find out in 1 Tim 1:20 more about what happened to Alexander who, together with Hymeneaus, were said to have been delivered into the hands of satan.

 

Fair weather friends

“At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.”

When Paul got into trouble with the authorities and faced trials, everyone who used to be with him suddenly deserted him! No one stood with Paul at his first defense. These are the kind of people whom I call fair weather friends. In fact, they are only your friends when you are doing good and prospering, but when you get into troubles and difficulties, they would quickly walk away and not have anything to do with you. Paul did not hold any grudges on those who forsook him, nor should we.

 

 

Jesus stands with us 

When people walk away from your life for ungodly reasons, it is because their heart conditions are not right and have chosen different pathways.

We ought to realise that not everyone around our lives are destined to partner and journey with us for the long haul. Some are drawn away and led astray because their heart towards God has changed.

We need to guard our own hearts and surround ourselves with the right people who will tell us the truth and help us stay on course with God.

Most of all, we need to follow Jesus under whatever circumstances, difficulties and trials we face in life, and look to God always as our most trustworthy life partner!

It is possible that people who used to walk with God can choose to walk away from Him.

But Jesus will never forshake us!

 

But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!
II Timothy 4:17‭-‬18 NKJV

 

Jesus never forshakes us, but we need to know that the Lord is not going to stand with us under all circumstances. Paul told us that the Lord stood with him for a purpose, that the gospel of Jesus might be preached fully through Paul.

When we are doing God’s will, God stands with us and strengthens us, but when we are walking in disobedience, God will not partner with us.

 

Surround yourself with people for kingdom purpose

Often, people only associate with others for themselves, not for God. They are looking for friends who would click with them, people who would encourage them, support them and agree with them, people with similar interests and hobbies, people who would serve their personal needs and so on, instead of associating with people for kingdom purposes. Jesus says: “When two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in their midst”. If we are gathering people together in the name of religion or personal agenda, instead of in the name of Jesus, the Lord is not going to join us. Why would the Lord be part of something that does not involve Him? The world is full of people who relate, associate, partner, co-habit, marry and come together for all kinds of reasons, usually not have anything to do with kingdom purposes. God does want us to have a support system in life but if we are only gathering with people to feed our own needs and desires, Jesus is not necessarily involved. If, for example, people are getting soulish support with someone else”s spouse instead of their own, that is an illegitimate support system that the Lord will definitely not support.

We need to purpose our life to surround ourselves primarily with people who will serve God’s kingdom purposes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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