Wednesday, March 28, 2012

THE FALLEN AND THE FAITHFUL

“We have come to a turning point in the road. If we turn to the right perhaps our children and our children's children will go that way; but if we turn to the left, generations yet unborn will curse our names for having been unfaithful to God and to His Word.” I read this quote of Charles Spurgeon after studying about three men mentioned in Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Their names are Phygellus, Hermogenes, and Onesiphorus. They may not be biblical characters you are familiar with, but they deserve your attention because they represent two categories of men and women who exist under the wide umbrella of Christianity: The Fallen and the Faithful.

Phygellus and Hermogenes were among those in Asia Minor who deserted the apostle Paul when he was taken prisoner for preaching the gospel. In his time of great need, they were nowhere to be found. We know nothing more about them than what is recorded in verse 15 of 2 Timothy 1: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.” At a turning point in the road, they turned left, and their names are recorded in God’s Word as a testimony of those who were unfaithful.

On the other hand was Onesiphorus. The Scripture says, “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well” (2 Timothy 1:16-18). When many were turning left on the road, Onesiphorus kept to the right. He was not a silent supporter of Paul, but one who, at great risk for his own safety, sought him out in one of Rome’s darker prisons where they kept those condemned to die. He went to his aid, and in the words of Paul, “he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain.” The word for refreshed means “to make cool,” like the feeling of a cool breeze on a hot summer day. In practical terms, he ministered to Paul’s physical needs and provided wonderful spiritual encouragement as Paul counted down the final days of his life.

Onesiphorus was a faithful Christian friend and brother in Christ to Paul, and his name will always be remembered for his courage and good deeds. His actions, however, did not result from a spur-of-the-moment decision. When Paul was in Ephesus, Onesiphorus often ministered to him. In other words, his faithfulness in a time of great trial was the outcome of a pattern of faithfulness in his life. The Christian life is a life; it’s not a one-hundred-yard dash. If you are going to be faithful in the end, you must start by being faithful every single day. If you are going to be faithful with much, you must first be faithful with little (Luke 16:10). May God raise up men and women like Onesiphorus in our generation, who will always choose to do good and noble things, as stewards of the manifold grace of God. “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6).

May the Lord find you faithful,

Pastor Tom

No comments: