15 You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. 16 May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. 17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. 18 May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus. (2 Timothy 1:15-18)
Paul faced all kinds of dangers in his ministry, including the dangers of journeys, the dangers of the wilderness, and the dangers of the environment (2 Corinthians 11:23-26). The most painful danger was being betrayed by his own people and abandoned by false believers. This passage describes Paul’s most difficult situation. All the Christians in the countries of Asia turned away from him. In the most lonely and desolate situation of the Roman prison, Paul had a faithful and true brother, Onesiphorus. From his example, we can learn how to serve and love saints faithfully:
1. Comfort often and help in many ways: Likewise, we should always serve each other, stay in the same boat through storms, share the same yoke together, comfort and help those in need. Jesus said if we did it to one of the least of the brothers, we have done it to Jesus (Matthew 25:31-40). In the snow storm that hit two weeks ago, many families encountered difficulties, brothers and sisters stretched out helping hands to host families in need, and the church was open to provide warmth.
2. Don’t be ashamed of sufferings: As Christians, we can’t expect things to always go smoothly. Darkness rejects the light. We will definitely face the world’s hostility, persecution, harm, and humiliation. We must hold on to our faith, grow to maturity, and be faithful even to death. Then we will receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).
3. On the contrary: Most people avoid being imprisoned in chains. "On the contrary" indicates actions contrary to our nature. Do not follow our flesh and lust, but submit to the Holy Spirit.
4. Search hard: This is a distant, difficult road. But he searched with loyalty and perseverance. Search in a state of urgency; it is not optional. Therefore, we must also search diligently for the truth, study the Bible diligently, pray diligently, and serve diligently; connect and work diligently with brothers and sisters, help brothers and sisters in need diligently, diligently spread and live out the truth we learned, diligently looking for opportunities for ministry. In order to serve diligently, we have to give something up. Sometimes you don’t necessarily receive praise. Therefore, we must put down many selfish desires in order to serve the Lord diligently.
5. Blessings: The two “may’s” show Paul’s blessings, prayers, and affirmations to this faithful brother. The family of the faithful will be blessed, and his own life will be blessed when the Lord returns.
Paul used the testimony of Onesiphorus to encourage Timothy, a young preacher, to not lose faith in serving God because of loneliness. There are warm springs and cold winters on the path of service. God will send angels for comfort and help in difficulties. May we also become ambassadors of comfort, helping one another and serving faithfully.
～ Rev. Benguang Du 都本光牧師 ～