Living by Grace

Dedicated to providing guidance in daily living through the power of God's grace as experienced in our union with Christ.

Useless to Useful


I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.  Philemon 1:10-11


Onesimus was Philemon’s slave who ran away to Rome where he found the Apostle Paul. Paul obviously knew Philemon and possibly knew Onesimus.


It is clear that Paul led Onesimus to salvation in Christ. We can be certain that Paul taught Onesimus how to walk in grace. Paul had written to the church at Corinth that he taught about his life in Christ in every church (1 Corinthians 4:17). He surely would have taught these essential Christian truths to Onesimus.


Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon carrying a letter asking Philemon to receive Onesimus. In the letter, he wrote that sending Onesimus back to him was like sending his own heart.


Paul admitted to Philemon that Onesimus had been unprofitable to him then added “… but now is profitable to you and to me.” Paul’s confidence in Onesimus’ usefulness to Philemon is indicated in his statement that he would not be just a slave but a beloved brother.


It is not uncommon for us to see or hear about someone coming to Christ whose life had been nothing but a negative for years. His salvation in Christ completely changed him. His life became constructive, bringing glory to God and blessings to man.


Perhaps you also know of someone who had such a radical change at his conversion but who has now drifted away from being useful to God and others. Possibly, he began drifting because he was not having victories in his ministry. He needs to hear and respond to the New Testament message about living by grace. This will return him to again being useful to God and others.