Practical Proverbial, from 2 Timothy, 26 June 2019

Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus.  Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus. Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers and sisters.  2 Timothy 4:19-21 (NIV).

This seems like a Southern goodbye.   My wife frequently notes that people from the American South take a long time to say goodbye.   You (or they) say “well, I have to get going” and you may start for the door or intend to hang up the phone.  Yet the person on the other end of the conversation then says “Yeah, me too,” pauses, and then continues with :….and then I was in my kitchen…” or something like that, extending the conversation through a protracted goodbye.   A five-minute talk easily stretches to a half-hour or more.

That’s a Southern thing.   True, you see it in other places.  I was born a Yankee.  I have northern friends and family who do this.  But it’s almost a way of life in the American South.  Maybe it’s the way we’re raised (see “Southern thing”).  Or maybe they tell you the same thing several times.   The older I get, the more I find myself doing this.   Either way, it takes longer.

When you think about that, think about Paul.   It reminds me of how Paul signed off his letters.   In Paul’s time, letters were the only long-distance means of communication.   That means that you’d have added greetings to your letters, sending greetings from or to people you knew lived near the recipient.  Paul often did this:   it’s how he signed off Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, here (in 2 Timothy), Titus, and Philemon.  In all his letters, Paul sent (at least) generic good-bye’s.  But in most of them, he sent greetings from and to the people mentioned above as well as others he knew would be nearby.

Paul might have fit in in North Texas.  He’d understand the Southern goodbye.  Sure, it can be time-consuming and, yes, it can even be annoying.   But it’s great that people want to be involved in our lives.   It makes me want to be involved in theirs.  It’s love and mutual affection, mutual respect.  I like the art of conversation, and I like that someone wants to talk.   In a way, I feel sorry for folks in our electronic world because that art is changing. Text messages are so brief, so impersonal, so incomplete.   Emails are intended to be direct and to-the-point.   My wife is constantly urging me to go back to writing letters and cards; perhaps she has a point. Paul might agree.

So let’s keep talking.   In fact, my best to you, to your X and Y.   In the name of Jesus.

For further reading:  Acts 18:2, Acts 19:22, Acts 20:4-29, 2 Timothy 1:16, Titus 3:12, 2 Timothy 4:22

Lord Jesus, thanks for long goodbyes, for people who want to send their love to us, and for ways of communicating.

Practical Proverbial, from 2 Timothy, 4 April 2019

May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me.  May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.   2 Timothy 1:16-18 (NIV).

Notice that Paul prays for the blessing not just for his friend, Onesiphorus, but also for that man’s house.   It wasn’t enough for Paul to ask for God’s blessing / Jesus’ presence in the life of the man who had helped him.   No, Paul prayed blessing and kindness on the people who mattered most to Onesiphorus.

That’s going over and above.  The more you walk in faith-moved circles, the more you see people praying for the benefit of others, the health and prosperity of strangers, the peace of people they don’t even know.  It isn’t enough to get the fruit of Jesus’ Spirit in our lives; see Galatians 5.   No, when that happens, you have to share it.   You want other people to know what that peace means, what it feels like.   You want them to know Jesus, too, so that they can receive those blessings, those fruits in their lives..

You want it so much that you want them to experience it forever.   Paul prayed Jesus’ mercy over Onesiphorus’ household:  his family, his extended family, and anyone who may have moved in their circle.   He prayed eternal life over their home so that they would continue to abide in the Lord when Paul was (soon to be) gone.   Only God could give the kind of peace that would last forever.   Onesiphorus had shown kindness and loyalty to Paul.   Now, in his darkest hour, Paul repaid that kindness in the only way he could:   through prayers in Jesus.  That matters most.

If you don’t believe these things are true, or if you only have one toe in the pool of this faith-life, then these things might not make much sense to you.   This isn’t some Christian game of “I’ve got a secret” or playing goody two shoes.   It’s a life and death battle we’re in and we’re in the armies of the living God.  We want you on our side because we want you, with us, to live forever with Him.   We want you for Him because He wants you for Himself more than we do.   Because He loves you.   Because He is true and real love and the only real peace there is.  Allah and meditation can’t do that.  Jesus does.

For further reading:   Galatians 5:22-23, Hebrews 6:10, Acts 21:33, 2 Timothy 2:1.

Lord Jesus, only in You is found mercy and peace.   I’ve messed up before; help me to not do it again.   Bless those who are around me today, especially those with whom I barely come in contact.   Abide with them; live through them; bless them.