“Don’t do life alone.”
I first ran across this sentence in the context of a congregation encouraging people to join a small group. It’s so easy for us to try to navigate life all by ourselves. After all, that’s the “American way”, right?
But it’s not Biblical, biological, or wise. We’re not designed to go through life alone.
The heroes of the Bible were no exception. Even Jesus didn’t go through His earthly life alone. Let that one sink in.
At the close of 2 Timothy, the Apostle Paul pens in 2 Timothy 4:19-22:
19 Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus. 21 Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers and sisters. 22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all.2 Timothy 4:19-22
New International Version
It’s easy for us to think Paul did all his missionary work alone. Nothing is further from reality. Paul was more like the team leader of missionary teams. Yes, he was clearly the primary voice, but he wasn’t alone in planting and building churches—the people and not the building, of course; the church is not a building.
At the time the Apostle Paul is writing this, he is not among the normal crowd of people. He feels lonely because most of his dear friends and partners in ministry are so far away.
At the close of his letter to young Timothy, the imprisoned Apostle sends his warm greetings to his friends there with Timothy.
There is an interesting note found in verse 20: Trophimus is still sick at the time of Paul’s writing. Why is this significant? Because the ability to heal people was not at the Apostle’s will. Healing from sickness is something granted by the sovereignty and power of God for His glory and not simply because we desire it.
The desire for Paul to have his son in ministry near to him is echoed in verse 21 as a desire for Timothy to join Paul before winter. Otherwise, Timothy would have been nearly summer before arriving.
Do you try to do your life alone?
Are you involved in a small group in your congregation? For all they can accomplish in our lives, Sunday services are for celebration, teaching, and vision-casting. They’re not the best place for building up disciples. They’re not the best place for encouraging our faith. They’re not the best place for correcting us when we go sideways.
But living in a small group of Christians? There we will find friendships, encouragement, correction, and life. There we will find family.
It’s fascinating to me when I hear of “Christians” saying they don’t need a church to be a Christian. The best deceptions are usually resting on technicalities of the truth.
Here’s what I mean. Technically, you don’t need to belong to a congregation to be redeemed and on your way to Heaven. Salvation is a gift of God’s grace, not the church’s grace.
But the Bible always assumes we are living with the family of faith. It presumes we are saved as individuals into a congregation. The Bible doesn’t even have a category of a stand-alone Christian, except to say they’re either living in sin or have been removed from the fellowship.
So again I ask, do you try to do your life alone?
Whatever congregation you belong to, I’m sure they have small groups of some kind. Either Sunday school classes, serving teams, or small groups meeting during the week, you have a way to get involved in the lives of others and allow others get involved in yours.
It will strengthen you. Guard you. Guide you. And gift you with someone a lot of us need more of: family.
I’m so thankful you’ve been on this journey through 1 and 2 Timothy. After a lot of prayer and conversations, I’m heading back into the wisdom of the Proverbs starting next week until we get to Advent (December). There’s so much in the Proverbs to explore—so many passages we’ve not covered here! I can’t wait to go down that road again with you.