Once Worthless, Now Precious

What does your name mean?

I once did a study with my children on the names of God. We started by looking at each of their names and what they mean. I laughed to myself at the irony of how my children significantly reflect their names’ meanings.

My own name means Christian, or “Christ follower.” Unlike my children, I did not come out of the womb reflecting the meaning of my name. Rather, I put on my name when God gripped my heart and made me his child.

From Useless to Useful

Onesimus had a similar experience with his name. Onesimus was a slave who had stolen from his master, Philemon, and ran away.

He later came to faith in Christ through the apostle Paul’s ministry. In fact, Paul refers to himself as Onesimus’s “father” because Paul directly shared Christ with him (Philemon 10). The book of Philemon is a letter Paul wrote to tell Philemon (a believer who also came to Christ through Paul’s ministry) that Onesimus had come to saving faith in Christ.

In the letter, Paul asks that Philemon allow Onesimus to return to Philemon without fear of punishment, even though he deserved severe punishment for his disobedience. Paul not only asks that Philemon accept Onesimus back, but also that he welcome him as a brother in Christ.

This perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother — especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. (Philemon 15–16)

Onesimus’s name means “useful.” Paul uses a play on words with his name when he writes, “Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me” (Philemon 11). Once a useless, rebellious slave, Onesimus became useful through the saving and transforming grace of God.

From Many, Onesimus

Philemon is a tiny book, and often overlooked, but it is powerful with gospel truth. It reminds us that only in Christ do we find our true selves, our true identity. No matter what names our parents gave us at birth, or what names we were called on the playground, or what names we’ve given ourselves, we become who we were made to be when God calls us by name. When he calls us to be his own. When he calls us to be his child.

Written by Christina Fox

Full article at Desiring God  

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