“I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me: Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels:”Philemon 1:10-12
I often look at my life every birthday and New Year and check for spiritual growth. I hope to see growth each year and I am grateful for new opportunities to get better. I often imagine that my spiritual growth is measured and marked on a “doorway” to gauge my growth and progress. The kind of marks you would see in an aged home where the kids have grown up their whole life and there are the marks to show it. I am grateful for spiritual growth, and I am grateful for the mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus. I am always amazed by His tender love and His open welcoming arms when I decide to go my own way.
I was young when I was saved, and I would hear messages that would light a fire inside of me. I would seek to go out and do what was preached in the Word, and I was so influenced by the preaching that I wanted to be a pastor myself. The older I got, the more I seemed to fall away from the truth of God’s Word and was drawn to the lies of this world. I would fall away and be convicted and come back. Unfortunately, I would not stay back and would drift and wander again back to the world. I got married and attended a church that helped me grow, but I was still not 100% sold out to God. I was in many ways still unprofitable to the work, but yet God still used me and continued teaching and growing me.
Freedom That Lasts was a ministry God allowed me to be a part of where He really started to work on me. In this ministry, He showed me I needed to get real with my spiritual walk. I needed to read His Word for guidance and wisdom, and not just to check it off my daily obligation list. He started to show me that the best part of the Christian life is to walk alongside Him and enjoy His presence. The allure of the world seemed not as illustrious as I began to get knowledge of who He was, and He seemed to draw me closer and closer as I started to differentiate the truth from the lies. God began to change my outlook and attitude, and He even brought a smile to my face because of the joy inside of me. I had real joy and not just a fleeting moment of happiness due to an excitable event in my life.
I know many who taught me in high school or those who were my youth leaders that did not see that this was possible for me. I was rebellious and discontent, and I questioned everything. My reputation preceded itself and the retelling of my exploits grew far more than my actions would ever afford. I would say things to spark a reaction or say things I know they would dislike just to get an argument going. I was the button-pusher and the more buttons you showed me, the more I pushed them. I am thankful that even in this time, God would still speak to me even though I tried to hush His voice. He never gave up on me and I had a faithful mom and dad who would often pray for me. People would say “there’s no hope for me”, but we should never lose hope in our God who can make the unprofitable, profitable. He is the One who can change the leper’s spot, and the One who washed my sins white as snow.
I think of the irony of this story how Philemon was a convert of Paul who had a slave named Onesimus. A slave who was unprofitable just as Paul was to the Christians he persecuted. Saul who was unprofitable became Paul who set the Christian world on fire for the glory of God. He became a man who is thought to be one of the greatest preachers of all time. A man who was used by God to write much of the New Testament. A man who wrote to Onesimus‘ boss to tell him how his employee had changed and went from unprofitable to profitable. He asked Philemon to forgive him and accept him back just as he would the Apostle Paul. Praise God for the change He can do in one’s life in making one who is unprofitable become profitable.
How about your life? Are you profitable to the work of the Lord? Are you one who kicks against the pricks or are you one who is allowing God to change you? Have you given up on someone whom you feel is unprofitable and hopeless? Are you praying for them? Are you asking God to provide hope to the hopeless and do you truly believe that all things are possible with God? Whom are you praying for today that you desire to see God do a work in their life? God is able to take Saul and change him into Paul, so what is he wanting to do in your life and others on whom you have an influence? May we not put our hope in people, but may we rest in God’s eternal hope and transforming power. To God be the glory for changed lives, and may we give Him glory for what He has done in our own lives.