How to become a profitable saint – Part 1
God is a specialist in remoulding broken and messed up lives. He takes delight in doing this for everyone who freely comes to Him for help. This was what He did with a seemingly innocuous Bible personality, called Onesimus, whose life reveals much of the transforming power of God’s grace and redemption in Christ. Before his conversion, Onesimus was undependable, unprofitable and a runaway servant, who had stolen from his master, Philemon. But after his conversion, he became a dependable and trustworthy believer, who had the privilege of labouring in the gospel with Apostle Paul. God’s Grace transformed him from being a guilty thief to a righteous son, who was ready to do restitution, and make amends for his past offences.
Paul the apostle surrounded himself with other transformed people that were profitable to the Lord and the brethren. Another person was Epaphras, who was faithful in ministry and fervent in the Spirit. Then there was Marcus who was formerly a failure but became a favourite in ministry. Those who failed in the past should not throw in the towel, but make effort towards improvement to become useful in the Kingdom of God. Another person, Aristarchus, demonstrated the fearlessness of true friendship in ministry.
Sadly, one man, Demas, who once stood for Christ, soon displayed faithlessness, fickleness, foolishness and folly, and fell in ministry. We must never allow dull, weak, lukewarm and lethargic persons around us. Like Luke, we should be focused and firm in ministry. Paul the apostle had confidence in Philemon’s obedience to his requests, especially to receive back the transformed and now profitable Onesimus. As believers, we should always be obedient to the Word of God and remain fervent, faithful, fruitful and firm to the end.
A truly converted believer who has left the old life of sin is always marked by a turnaround for the new life of righteousness. Regardless of the past years of living in sin and ignorance of Christ, grace, the gospel and His demands, God commands “all men every where to repent”. When Onesimus met with Paul the apostle, and was confronted with the demands of the gospel and the evidence of God’s grace, he surrendered to the Lord. And “being made free from sin, [he became a servant] to God, [and had] fruit unto holiness”. Realisation of one’s sinful state and the eternal consequence of a life of sin lead to confession and repentance, which marks the point of conversion in the life of a sinner. This produces a change of mind and attitude, with resolute decision to follow the Lord. Sinners who are yet to be saved should repent immediately because without salvation, they have no hope of eternal life.
A change happened in the life of Onesimus after his conversion. He became born again and a new creature in Christ; old things passed away and all things became new for him. When a sinner meets the Lord and is reconciled to Him, his new life in Christ is visible to people around him. The guilt, punishment and condemnation that are taken away give him hope of getting to heaven, if he dies in the Lord or the rapture takes place. Believers who have benefitted from the grace of God that brings salvation to all men must ensure they stay away from sin. “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not”.
Further Reading (King James Version): Philemon 10-19,22,23; Colossians 1:7; 4:12,13; Philemon 24; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:10; Philemon 24,21. Philemon 10,11; Acts 17:30; Romans 6:21,22; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 2:12-19; 5:3-8; Philemon 10; 1 Corinthians 4:15; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 John 5:18. Philemon 12,15,16,20,18,19; Genesis 20:1-10,14; Ezekiel 33:14-16; Luke 19:8-10; Matthew 5:22-24; Acts 24:16; Philemon 21; Romans 6:17; Philippians 2:12; 1 Peter 1:14-16,22; 4:17,18. Philemon 1,2; Colossians 4:15; Romans 16:3-5; Philemon 22; 2 Kings 4:8-11; Job 31:32; Philemon 10-13,20; Colossians 4:7-9; John 17:10; 1 Kings 20:4; 2 Samuel 24:24; Psalm 4:3; Isaiah 43:21; Romans 14:7,8; 1 Corinthians 6:19,20; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15; 8:5; Revelation 4:11.