How to become useful
How to Become Useful
A Bible Study in Philemon
Bristol Road Baptist Wed. 13 May 1998
The Background realities
Fellowship in Jesus
the transformation of Paul and Philemon & Onesimus v1 v5 v6
the only sure hope of usefulness, purpose and value.
Fellowship in the Gospel
v6 sharing your faith
v7 giving joy and encouragement
refreshing the hearts of the saints
So Paul can expect Philemon to 1. understand 2. obey 3 do even more
In Col 4 9 we know that Onesimus too was part of that fellowship.
A Debt v19 "not to mention that you owe me your very self"
Usefulness is a matter of indebtedness to Christ & to those by whom the gospel reached us.
We owe Him a debt of worship and service.
The Changing Circumstances
Both Onesimus and Philemon must have viewed these changes with initial dismay,
but dismay that turned to joy.
Was yours - is now mine v10
Was alone - is now a member of the family "my son...a dear brother" v10 v16
Was useless - is now useful v11
Was afraid - is now obedient vv 12,15,16
Was away - is now welcome v17
The Present Challenge
Such usefulness challenges Paul - to send him back, Philemon to welcome, and Onesimus to obey! Underlying this challenge are these reasons:
A reason for separation v 15
Grace provides an insight into our experiences. Denials are hard to face!
God delights to turn debits into credits, and pays dividends as well.
A reason for receiving v 16 It is the FAMILY RELATIONSHIP that transforms the way we are received and should receive others!
A reason for settling the debt v18
How will you do that Paul? You are in chains! Yes I am - with you in Christ.
"Owing nothing save the debt of love".
Whether to Paul, or to Philemon, or to Onesimus - the challenge to BE USEFUL
You are His - therefore useful, - therefore obey.
No doubt we all feel useless from time to time. Perhaps we have attempted a
task that has proved too difficult for us - or perhaps because of age or whatever
we cannot easily do the things that once we did.
Imagine then how the runaway slave Onesimus must have felt
after absconding with his master's property.
He arrives at Rome. He is not the only runaway to seek
the anonymity of the great city.
how FEARFUL he must have been ! How worried for his life!
How many times must he have looked back over his shoulder
and wondered if anyone recognised him - or realised what he was doing!
If God had not been at work on his behalf he would have become
another of history's forgotten and nameless runaways -
not just useless but utterly hopeless.
Yet God was at work. Onesimus did not realise it.
God had plans for this useless slave.
This wonderful little letter so full of Paul's caring heart and
desire for Onesimus and Philemon is not just a trivial note -
like those sent regularly with children to school excusing an absence
or asking a favour - it is a lesson in
how to become useful.
It is dedicated to any who feel lost or useless.
Here is the secret of SUCCESSFUL USEFULNESS.