You will know, I expect, that all those who were in Asia have turned against me, Phygelus and Hermogenes among them. But may the Lord have mercy on the household of Onesiphorus. Many times did that man put fresh heart into me, and he was not in the least ashamed of my being (2 Timothy 1:15~16 Phillips)
The second letter of Paul to Timothy has been called Paul’s “last will and testament.” Paul is about to be executed under the deranged hand of Nero, emperor of Rome (who will himself be murdered the next year). Paul knows that his end is near. He is writing his young pastoral protégé, “my own dearly loved son,” sharing his heart and final instructions before being put to death.
As I read this letter this week, my heart was drawn to these haunting words of Paul’s heart. Paul, deserted by friends? Deserted by all in Asia? The great apostle, the disciples of the heart set free, deserted by those he once called friends.
Paul even mentions names—Phygelus and Hermogenes, who have deserted Paul and seemingly were known to Timothy. Paul is warning Timothy to be wary of these two men. Paul has no fear in naming people who should be avoided. Deserters. Betrayers.
All of us will be deserted by those we once called friends. As we journey on with the Lord, we will experience people who will walk with us in the good times but desert us in difficulties. Desertions hurt the most deeply because of the sense of abandonment from the trust we once felt.
In the next sentence Paul mentions a friend who has stayed closer than a brother. Onesiphorus means to “bring profit; useful.” This man whom we know so little, has not been ashamed of Paul and his ministry. He has not cut and run under pressure.
Our passage defines a true ally. Onesiphorus…put fresh heart into me, and he was not in the least ashamed of my being. This is a true bloodstained ally, one who creates a fresh heart in us and is not ashamed of our struggles, our defeats, even our true selves.
Every man (and woman) needs bloodstained allies, brothers (and sisters) who have fought battles with us, who will not desert us in times of trouble. All of us need a few true friends who will enter into hardship and fight alongside us, who are loyal, who will watch our backs and stand for Christ and His mission. They are hard to find, but when they are discovered in your life, hold on to them—they will put fresh heart into you and you will put fresh heart into them.
With a Heart set Free,
For deeper teaching on “Bloodstained Allies,” join Steve on our first men’s spiritual boot camp, The Wholeheart Advance, September 10-13th. For more information and the early discounted registration:
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