We meet another one of Paul’s friends who helped to preach the gospel. His name is Onesimus. His story did not have a good start. Originally, he was Philemon’s worker, but somewhere along the way he absconded. He was just a lay about, but then he met Paul and the message of salvation turned Onesimus’ life around.
Just hear what Paul says about him: 9And I’ve sent Onesimus with him. Onesimus is one of you, and has become such a trusted and dear brother! Together they’ll bring you up-to-date on everything that has been going on here.
What a lovely story about someone who had taken a wrong turn, who was unreliable and only thought of himself, but who, when he ran into God, made a 180° turn. Those who are unusable, become useable when the living God works in him or her.
We become so easily discouraged with a child who simply does not want to go in the right direction. Or maybe a spouse who continuously oversteps the boundaries of marriage. Maybe it’s an employee who regularly comes late for work, or intentionally tries to do as little as possible.
I suspect that Onesimus fitted into one of these categories. Maybe Philemon just gave up and let him go when he absconded. Fortunately, God never gives up and when you run into Him, you cannot remain the same.
We should never give up on someone. God gives us so many chances. Shouldn’t we share those chances that we receive in abundance with the people around us?
I know there are times when we need to draw a line in the sand and take a stand. Sometimes the other person’s conduct is so destructive that you have to take action. However, the question is whether you have done enough to help the one who has chosen to stay on the wrong path?
Fedsas, the organisation that helps school staff to manage the school right, gave us training in hearings. As we were discussing hearings and children who offend, I was shocked to find out that when you suspend a child found guilty of using illegal substances, the Education Department would investigate whether the school had done enough to help the child with his or her dependency.
But when I thought about this again later, I realised this is exactly what we should do. We must do everything possible to help others so that they can get out of the mud. Often it is that one hand stretched out to you that you need to escape from the mud once and for all. Often it is that one person that you pulled from the mud that will later help others from the mud, because they know exactly what it felt like to be in that position and what relief the one hand stretched out to him or her brought.
They always stay loyal. They know what hardship is and because they are so grateful, they want to help others to really make a difference in other people’s lives.
God is a God of more chances. Maybe today we should give someone else another chance, because today may be the day of a 180° turn.
Who should get a second chance?
How will you help that person?
Is there hope?
Lord, thank you for all the chances. Thank you for never giving up on me. I know I have to share your grace with people around me who deserve it as little as I do. Please grant me wisdom to do the right thing here. I ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.