Thank You For Being A Friend
Posted on January 1, 2019 by America's Keswick in Freedom Fighters
“May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains.” — 2 Timothy 1:16 (NLT)
Have you ever felt abandoned and deserted in a tough season in your life? Does it seem you find out who your friends really are as this season settles itself upon you? In 1947, six days before the start of baseball season, Jackie Robinson was called up to the major leagues to play first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers. When some of the players for the Dodgers found it out, they began a petition against the move. This petition basically said if you bring him up, we won’t play. However, there was a shortstop who wouldn’t have anything to do with that petition. As a matter of fact, that guy said of Robinson, “if he can take my job, he’s entitled to it.”
That shortstop was Pee Wee Reese and an infamous moment in time can be found at MCU Park, home of the New York Mets minor league team, The Brooklyn Cyclones. It’s a bronze statue that shows Reese putting his arm around Robinson’s shoulder during a time where Robinson was being ridiculed by baseball fans at Crosley Field, home of the Cincinnati Reds. When Reese went over to Robinson during infield warm-ups and engaged him in conversation, Reese put his arm around Robinson’s shoulder as a gesture of support for him…the crowd went silent.
I guess the thing to note here is, Robinson was the first man of color to enter the major leagues and Reese was white. At a moment in his life, where Robinson was observed by then sports writer, Jimmy Cannon, as being “the loneliest man I have ever seen in sports,” Pee Wee Reese did something that could be reflective of what a little-known man named Onesiphorus did for the apostle Paul during a season of great difficulty. Be a person that not only was life-giving but life-changing.
When we take a look at 2 Timothy 1, we see the weight of Paul’s situation has made him melancholy in a way. He remembers how it was when he first met Timothy and wants to encourage him to remain steadfast in what he taught him. Then this comes in verse 15, “As you know, everyone from the province of Asia has deserted me—even Phygelus and Hermongenes.” It kinda begs the question- who was ‘everyone,’ and who were Phygelus and Hermongenes? Well I went digging and found out that they were more likely the leading ones among the believers (everyone) in Asia. In a time when Nero was using Christians as candles, it must have pretty easy to turn tail and run from “The Way” when Rome came looking for volunteers. Phygelus and Hermongenes were probably the last to turn away…but not Onesiphorus.
The Greek root of his name means “to have benefit of a thing that is the source of joy.” So, I guess to be a breath of fresh of air to people was Onesiphorus’ gift. And there were four things he did for Paul that got him his honorable mention in God’s Word. First, he expressed kindness and refreshed Paul just by visiting and encouraging him. Secondly, Onesiphorus was not ashamed of Paul because of his imprisonment. That in itself must have been uplifting. Thirdly, Onesiphorus sought Paul out when he found out Paul was in Rome. This would have made Paul feel supported by someone, anyone. And lastly, Paul knew that Onesiphorus was continuing the mission work by what he was doing for the church in Ephesus.
In Galatians 6, the apostle Paul would pen this, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct” (Gal 6:2-5).
I’m not too sure if Pee Wee Reese had these words in mind when he put his arm around Jackie Robinson but when Pee Wee took responsibility for his own conduct, he changed the way baseball treated people forever. When Onesiphorus took responsibility for his conduct, he did his part in furthering the church that was developing in the province of Asia. Despite any persecution that both Pee Wee or Onesiphorus may have had to endure in doing what they did, they showed us all what it looks like when you are willing to stoop down and reach out to those who are a bad season in their life and give them a breath of fresh air. Is that you? I hope so. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) has been married for 25+ years (Kathy), has a married son (Kevin) and a daughter in college (Karen). He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.
Daily Quote: “You and I cannot be breath-giving, life-loving people if we have a poor view of others. We must cultivate our relationships in all areas in order for us to have the soft hearts needed to breathe—and receive—new life.” — Chris Hodges
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. – Galatians 2:20