For some time now I’ve been wondering what Onesiphorus did that refreshed Paul. Writing from prison, Paul asked the Lord to “show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains….He searched hard for me until he found me…You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus”(2 Tim. 1:16-18).
Whatever Onesiphorus did, it had to be important or else Paul wouldn’t have mentioned it. Refresh means to invigorate, re-energize or revive. Maybe he took Paul a good meal, or clean clothes, or ointment for the sores caused by the chains he had to wear.
I don’t really know whether he did any of these things but I do know that he made up his mind to do something for Paul. He sought him out; he wasn’t embarrassed to visit him in prison and while there he brought blessing into Paul’s life.
I’m thinking that he must have revived his spirit perhaps by bringing news of the spiritual fruit evident in the Philippian Church. Perhaps he shared some comforting spiritual truths. Possibly, he had listened to Paul’s teaching then spent time praying with him. Being present obviously meant much to the apostle. Somehow Onesiphorus let Paul know he cared. Since the word often is used, he must have frequently contributed to reinvigorating Paul’s spirit.
Other people have often refreshed me. One friend used to arrive at our door from time to time with a single red rose. Another friend used the phone to express her concern about how I was doing. Still another used to interrupt our phone conversations by saying, Let’s just take this to the Lord in prayer. Refreshers—how wonderful they are!
It’s good to be on the receiving end. But I ask myself, Am I a refresher, an Onesiphorus, or do I depress others? And so I pray, Father, even from my rocking chair I want to be used to refresh your children. (From Mary Helen’s rocking chair.)