I want to share about a guy that few people know about.
He's mentioned by Paul in 2 Timothy 1:16, and his name is Onesiphorus.
Paul wrote to Timothy and said, "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" (NLT). That's pretty much all we hear about this guy.
We don't know if he was young or old.
We don't know if he was rich or poor.
We just know that he was important to Paul.
But I've never come across any Bible study that mentions Onesiphorus.
Any time I set out to find Bible study curriculum for students, I'm faced with the usual suspects:
There's Noah, who built a boat (now he even gets a movie with Russell Crowe playing his part!).
There's Daniel, who rose to rockstar status during the Babylonian exile.
There's Esther, who stood strong (like Katniss Everdeen) in the face of the Capitol.
There's Peter, who followed Jesus but kept messing up.
There's even Barnabas, the encourager who travelled with Paul to share the gospel in far-off places.
But no one besides Paul mentions Onesiphorus. There's just nothing glamorous about him.
But when Paul mentions him here, he recognizes him for a simple thing.
It's something so simple that any of us can do it, pretty much everyday.
He didn't recognize him for being the best speaker, or giving the most money, or getting everything exactly right. Paul recognizes Onesiphorus for visiting him and encouraging him.
That makes sense because, as I think about my life and my faith so far, it wasn't the lights or the cameras or the action that kept me close to Christ; it was the kind gestures that came from people at just the right time.
As a new Christian, some guys invited me to on a road trip to see a Matt Redman show. In college, a guy from my church back home sent me a text message every Friday morning that just said, "I'm praying for you. Let me know if I can do anything for you." In ministry, a parent will send an email that says, "Thank you for making a difference in my son's life."
Those are kind gestures that came from people at just the right time for me, and those are the things that have kept me close to Christ through the years. And that's what I picture Onesiphorus doing for Paul as he went to visit him and encourage him again and again.
As you're working - week in and week out - in your church, don't give in to the temptation to rely on talent and technology. If you do that, you'll be done when the church up the road gets better talent and newer technology. You've got to think beyond the stage.
We've got to be intentional about doing the things that build relationships and community. And I think that includes visiting people and encouraging people wherever they're at, each step of the way, because we never know when one of the students in our ministries will think back on their faith and remember a kind gesture that we made for them at just the right time.
Think about Onesiphorus this week, and then pick out a few students to visit and encourage.
Hypocrites in the Church