Sunday, July 17, 2011

Touching Base! Part 134

Profit Bringer

(This article can also we found on our website at
http://www.bethelkingston.comunder the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

How much does the world you live in need a little kindness these days? Do you know anyone that would greatly benefit from a little kindness? Is there possibly a struggling single parent, a family teetering, a senior in need of an act of kindness? Do you believe our world is deficient in acts of kindness? I have heard some say that the world can be a pretty cruel place.

This week in our Punch series we looked at the fifth trait of the fruit of the Spirit, “kindness”. Here is what the word means:
  • Moral goodness,
  • The idea of treating all people like members of your family
  • A person who is acts kindly, and who brings profit to their situation
  • A person who is described as a kind person is usually a person people want to be around because they feel empowered, enable by that person, they feel stronger.
On Sunday, I repeatedly used the phrase “profit bringer”. If you think about it that is exactly what a kind act, word or gesture does for someone else. They profit from the interaction, from the act of kindness. Their lives are better off because somehow their life intersected with a “profit bringer!”

Let’s check out a story Paul recounts demonstrating the influence of a “profit bringer”:

Text: 2 Timothy 1:16-18

“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.”
The “profit bringer” is Onesiphorus, not a common household name today. Perhaps in the school yard his nickname was “One” so let’s stick with One for now. The profiteer is Paul. Note how much One stands out. In verse 15, everyone has deserted Paul. This is a bit of an overstatement but when you are in the pit that is what it may feel like. But One has stayed with Paul and as a result, Paul blesses everyone in the household of One.

Note the gratitude of Paul: Read v. 16a and 18a and you get an idea of how full Paul is with thanks for One showing kindness to him. I find that in all my conversations with people, when referring to people who are “profit bringers”, there is a welling up of thanks and appreciation directed toward that person or persons. Some even have tears come to their eyes when thinking of how deeply touched they were by a certain act.

Imagine living in such a way that people have this goodwill toward you or the church. Imagine having this kind of impact on people’s lives. The imagery that comes to mind is that of the wake a boat leaves as it rides along the surface of the water. Paul stands in One’s wake and says thanks.

It is not always easy to demonstrate kindness because sometimes the profit bringer needs to bring a hard word that may not be interpreted as an act of kindness. However, the full intention of what is said is for the person’s best.

Who is standing in your wake?
If you are married, what would your spouse be saying?
What are your friends, workmates or kids saying as they stand in your wake?

Note what One the profit bringer did: “… refreshed me…” (v.16) This is a great word which Paul uses here. It means “to cool off” or “to recover” from the effects of the heat. During this time of the year you can really feel what Paul is saying. We are all seeking refreshment on a hot day. I was down at Confederation Park the other day and one thing I noticed was how all the park benches in the shade were occupied. The sunny ones were vacant. People were even sitting on the ground, under the shade of the trees. Shade on a hot day attracts the crowds as they seek to be refreshed. One the profit bringer, in refreshing Paul, brought shade to Paul from the hot sun he was being exposed to as he served Christ. Paul is drawn to the “shade”, and gives thanks.

We don’t know exactly what One did for Paul but it is possible that One was wealthy and opened his home in Ephesus to provide “shade” for Paul while on his missionary journeys (see v. 18). How do you or could you use your resources to provide “shade” for people?

“(…) was not ashamed of my chains” (v.16)
At times when in prison, Paul would have been bound to a soldier. Note the contrast here: in v.15 Phygelus and Hermogenes ( I wonder if they had any nicknames - Phil and Herm) both abandoned Paul. Possibly they were afraid of the escalating risks of associating with Paul. Whatever the case, One did not become ashamed or fearful, but hung in there with Paul. One of the realities of demonstrating kindness, being a “profit bringer” is that there will be situations where you may be the only one bringing profit. For whatever reason everyone else walks by, ignores the need, deserts or abandons. To be a profit bringer can sometimes mean we stand alone. Perhaps this is why kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. We need divine strength, strength beyond ourselves, to move towards people who have “chains” that have caused other people to walk away.

What are “chains” today that can cause us to pull back on expressions of kindness?
  • Chains representing a past- a past that makes us fearful or judgmental of the person
  • Chains representing a particular lifestyle - their current practices we find appalling or unacceptable
  • Chains that represent our personal history with that person - our lives have crossed over in the past and there is a history of hurt and pain - they let us down so we now withhold kindness
  • Chains representing ethnicity - believe it or not even in Kingston, the color of someone’s skin can be a barrier
  • Chains representing… got another one?
You often see this in school yards but it reflects what can happen in adult school yards - the workplace, church etc.

“…he searched hard for me…” (v.17)
Again note the contrast. Phygelus and Hermogenes were on a mission of abandonment, One, though, was on a mission of engagement. This was not a leisurely stroll in the park looking around for someone random to whom he could provide shade. Note the language Paul uses, “searched hard for me until he found me”.

We talk about “random acts of kindness”, which is great: Unplanned, unexpected, a need pops up before you and because you are wired to God, you act - bring profit. We have all had these experiences.

But note that there is nothing random about this act of kindness. It is intentional, well thought out, planned for, with preparation involved. I believe that One is illustrating what it means to be led by the Spirit. God has laid Paul on his heart so when he goes to Rome, instead of going to the movies and then to the Keg afterwards for dinner ,he is walking the streets, knocking on doors, working his network, searching out Paul because God has laid Paul on his heart - nothing random about it! The last person he thinks about before falling asleep is Paul, the first person who comes to mind when he awakes is Paul - a profit bringer on a mission- sent by God and empowered by God to make a difference!

Has God ever laid someone on your heart like this?

My guess is that One was just what the doctor ordered for Paul to make it through this leg of his journey. Paul, in retelling this story to Timothy, underscores how important and meaningful One’s actions were for Paul when he was in Rome. I know that all of us could recount our story and think of a few people who, by their act of kindness, gave us the encouragement and resources we needed to face another day.

This week, try showing a little kindness. Be a profit bringer. By the way, guess what Onesiphorus’ name means? You got it – “profit bringer”. It wasn’t just what his name meant, but what his life came to represent. Might we follow in the steps of One who followed in the steps of the ultimate One demonstrating kindness beyond compare.


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