“May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains,but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me—may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day!”
– 2 Timothy 1:16-18a
I love the book of 2 Timothy. Paul writes his second letter to his student and writes it in such a personal and encouraging way as a mentor speaking to his mentored. Paul begins by reminding Timothy of his heritage and giftings (1:5-7). Paul continues to exhort Timothy to “not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord” (v. 8). As Paul is writing this, he is imprisoned in Rome bound by shackles and chains. He writes to encourage Timothy to press on through suffering as a man who has endured suffering and is currently enduring suffering.
When coming to verses 16-18 in chapter 1, we must read within the literary context of the passage and the historical context to know the significance of this text. In verse 15, Paul reminds Timothy of those who deserted him in Asia and then goes on in verse 16 to speak of a man named Onesiphorus. I can only assume that Onesiphorus was the top baby name in the first century, but not so much anymore.
Verses 16-18 greatly contrast verse 15. The verse reads that Onesiphorus intentionally searched for Paul and eagerly awaited his arrival. Onesiphorus means “help-bringer” and he lived up to his name by not begin ashamed of Paul’s chains and intentionally refreshed Paul so he could continue to share the Gospel in Rome. What a testimony and challenging task! Onesiphorus searches all over the largest city at the time to find a man who had been beaten, imprisoned, ship-wrecked, and snake-bitten. Once he finds Paul, he refreshes the enslaved apostle and intentionally goes out of his way to help him.
The encouraging thing about this passage is that it is realistic and easily applicable to the common believer. We can be like Onesiphorus. We can intentionally search for the individuals in chains that need help and refreshing, meet them where they are, and serve them. We must not be ashamed of those in chains, but rather intentionally search for those who need spiritual refreshing and bring encouragement to them. We must be available to what God wants to do each day through us. Whether it is praying for a fellow Christian who God has put on your heart, encouraging a lost individual where you work, or something completely different, we must always keep our yes on the table with God and be intentional about seeking opportunities to be a “help-bringer” with full knowledge that we will be glorifying God in the process.
Pray: Thank You, God, for the example given to us in Your Word of what encouragement looks like. Help me to be an intentional blessing in someone’s life today. Give me eyes to see those that need encouragement and put individuals on my heart and in my mind that I need to pray for. Help me to follow through on what You have called me to.
First Baptist Broken Arrow