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Faith, Courage And Real Love

2 Timothy 1:15-18
You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. 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. (NIVUK)

Rome, under Nero’s rule, was a dangerous place for Christians.  Many were being imprisoned and killed.  Paul was being held secretly somewhere away from the main prison and Onesiphorus had to search hard to find him – and was not afraid to identify himself as another believer in Jesus.  However it was costly: Paul’s prayer for God’s mercy to be on Onesiphorus’ family, and Paul’s special greeting to them (2 Timothy 4:19) indicates that he died serving the Lord because of his compassion to Paul.
‘When he was in Rome’, suggests that Onesiphorus was travelling on business.  But he had a more important mission: to comfort the lonely, cold (2 Timothy 4:13) and chained apostle (2 Timothy 2:9).  The persecution was so intense that none of Paul’s former ministry associates from the towns around Ephesus wanted to be seen near him.  Other people like Crescens, Titus and Tychicus left Paul for gospel reasons, but Demas wanted a more comfortable life of his own making and Alexander spoke against Paul (2 Timothy 4:9-15).  There was no believer in the courthouse to support Paul at his initial trial; only the Lord stood with him (2 Timothy 4:16-18).

But the Lord knew how much Paul longed for fellowship, somebody to pray with, and to be encouraged.  So the Lord put it into the heart of Onesiphorus to minister to the apostle.  He was not ashamed of Christ or Paul’s commitment to Jesus – even though it may have cost him his life and put his family at risk.
Naturally we want to engineer our own safety and keep our family secure.  But the call of Jesus is much more radical than that. He calls us to trust Him for our safety.  When we do, we have the freedom to be obedient, whatever mission He sends us on.  That does not mean that we are not to love our family deeply and provide for their needs, but sometimes God has a higher call on our lives (Matthew 10:37-39).  When He does, those who put their comfort and family as a higher priority will miss the blessing of obedience and frustrate the purpose of God.  It can be a tough call, but with the Lord’s help we can and must obey.

God of all comfort. Thank You for the comfort You have given to me in difficult circumstances. Please forgive me when I have refused to obey Your command to meet the needs of others, because I have wanted to protect myself and my family - instead of trusting You to provide for all our needs. Please help me to believe that You have the love, desire and power to provide abundantly, and encourage me to be obedient to Your call. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams