May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains…(2 Timothy 1:16)
Have you experienced the power of encouragement in a time of loss or abandonment? I remember many times over the years when God provided a faithful believer who was others-focused, who came alongside to strengthen my hands for his work.
The apostle Paul had such a man by his side. He is one of the lesser-known servants in the biblical record. His name says it all. Onesiphorus means “profit bringer,” and that is exactly what he was. As Paul sat in a Roman prison, and thought about the last words he would pen under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the name of his faithful friend could not help but come to mind.
As a preacher of the biblical gospel and the whole counsel of God, Paul was accustomed to abandonment. Like Jesus, he had many people who wanted to come along for the ride, but when commitment to the ways of God and the Word of God meant discomfort and even persecution, the crowd departed and he was left with a faithful few. Onesiphorus was among the faithful few. He stood in direct contrast to those mentioned in the preceding verse, who had “turned away” from the apostle (2 Timothy 1:15).
Onesiphorus “often refreshed” Paul. This is the only occurrence of the word refreshed in the New Testament. It paints a picture of one who provides a cool refreshing breeze for one about to faint.
The next verse says that when “he arrived in Rome, he searched for me earnestly and found me” (2 Timothy 1:17). Onesiphorus did not sit around waiting for opportunities to serve. As soon as he learned of a need he acted on it, even if it meant searching a Roman prison to find his brother in the Lord. Being a faithful encourager requires initiative. It involves searching out ways to refresh other believers, even if it means personal sacrifice or inconvenience. The refreshing example of Onesiphorus is worthy of imitation.
Sometimes when we are grieving deep loss we unintentionally turn too far inward. Sometimes we nurse our own hurts for too long, or at the expense of noticing the needs of others who are also hurting.
Is there someone you can refresh today?