Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. Philemon 11 (EHV).
Slavery is useless. Paul just said so.
In his life as a slave, Onesimus had been useless to Philemon. Whether this is in the context of the work he performed, Onesimus’ attitude toward his master, or even Philemon’s use of Onesimus as a slave we don’t know; that context isn’t provided. What we do know is that Paul calls it out and says that Onesiums, as a slave, was useless to Philemon.
Ditto your job. Ditto your house. Ditto your marriage, your kids, your pride, your everything. EVERYTHING that we value here on the Third Rock it serves following Jesus Christ.
That’s a bitter pill for me to swallow. It wasn’t always so, but these days my family is my most important earthy matter. Years went by before I realized that my children and grand-children are the legacy I will leave behind. We never truly own anything since God places our things on loan to us. When we die, others get them. I won’t live here forever; someday I’ll be gone and the only physical reminder of me will be a stone in a Dallas cemetery. Yet I’m going to live forever because Jesus is my savior. What’s more, I’m going to live on here in the memories, habits, and lives of my kids, grandkids, and whoever they meet.
That’s going to happen because God opened my eyes and revealed that everything else is useless compared to Him. It took years of sin and more years of repentance for me to realize what He was telling me. As Jesus said in Mark 8, what good is it to gain everything but lose my soul in the process? He revealed to me (in a hundred different ways) that the real inheritance I can leave to my kids & grandkids is Christ Himself. Inspiring them to follow Him. Inspiring them to live lives in service to Him through living out the behaviors described in Galatians 5. Inspiring them to act in ways that point others to Christ through kindness, understanding, patience, and Godly wisdom. Love, joy, peace, patience and the rest: those behaviors that spring from following Jesus are the inheritance He wants us to leave for those after us. So that they can learn to follow Him too.
Everything else is meaningless; everything else is useless. Every possession, every person, every thought, every dollar here is useless if it isn’t in service and acknowledgement of Christ the King. In many fewer words, that’s the message Paul sent to Philemon.
For further reading: Ecclesiastes 1:1-11, Mark 8:36, Galatians 5:22-23, Philemon 12
My Lord, may all my thoughts, words, and actions be only in service to You. May others see You through how I live today.