In this passage Paul mentions three individuals by name. Two forsook him. Only one, Onesiphorus, stood by him even when it was dangerous to do so. Why the difference? If Paul’s assessment of Demas (2 Timothy 4:10) is any indicator, Phygellus and Hermognes were taken in by the distractions of this world, or were so frightened of the consequences of being connected to Paul that they thought it best to distance themselves. Whatever the reason, they are not well remembered. So, what kept Onesiphorus on track? He saw this life in the same way Moses (Hebrews 11:25) and Abraham (Hebrews 11:8-10) saw it. Life is not about what we see and have here. It’s about what we have waiting for us in Heaven. Onesiphorus lived for eternity, and he did that in his lifetime.
I wish I could say that my choices are always driven by having an eye toward eternity. They are not. Like Phygellus and Hermogenes, I tend to make my choices based on what I can see and on what I think I know. The people with the greatest peace and the greatest stability are those who live now with an eye on what God has promised (Isaiah 26:3). When we live and make our decisions based on what we can see and explain to ourselves now, we are not living by faith. We are living by sight. Was Onesiphorus blind to the consequences attached to associating with Paul? No. He understood them. He just chose to ignore them and set his focus on “things above, not on things on the earth.” (See Colossians 3:2)
I heard this once in an audio book: “Christians live based on promises, not explanations.” Abraham left home and traveled to a strange country, not because God explained to him what would happen, but because God promised him a blessing. Moses forsook all the opportunities of Egypt, not because God explained everything to him, but because of the promises God made to Israel.
Lord, help me in the coming year to live in the confidence of Your promises and not to doubt You. Help me to walk by faith and not by explanations. Help me to keep setting my affections on things above, not on things on the earth!