1:1-2:10 – How are we to live? We are not to be ‘empty talkers’, people who ‘profess to know God’ and ‘deny Him by their deeds’ (1:10,16). We must give no one the opportunity to ‘speak evil of God’s Word’. We must be ‘a model of good deeds’, showing ‘the beauty of the teachings about God our Saviour in everything we do’ (2:5,7,10). When we live in a Christlike way, ‘those who oppose’ Christ and His Gospel will be ‘put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us’ (2:8). This is how we are to live. How do we live? This is a question for all of us. It is a question which will make us feel uncomfortable. We don’t find it easy to look closely at the way we live our lives. We won’t get away with glossing over things. God calls us to pray, ‘Search me, O God… Cleanse me from every sin…’ (Psalm 139:23-24; Mission Praise, 587).
2:11-3:15 – We read in 2:11,13 of Christ’s coming in grace – ‘the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all people’ – and His coming in glory – ‘we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ’. From grace to glory – This is the journey from Christ’s first coming to His Second Coming. It is also the journey of our life of faith. We begin with the forgiveness of our sins. Our final destination is glory, heavenly and eternal glory, the glory of God. We live by the grace of God. We look forward to the glory of God. God wants us to live as ‘a people of His own who are zealous for good deeds’ (2:14). If we are to be ‘zealous for good deeds’, we must first be zealous for Jesus Christ. Do good – but never forget, ‘He saved us – not because of deeds done by us…’ (3:8,4-6).
‘He was useless… now he has become useful’(11). This is the story of Onesimus (the name means ‘useful’). A runaway ‘slave’, he became ‘a beloved brother… in the Lord’(16). It appears that Onesimus had stolen from his master, Philemon (18-19). He landed up in prison – and there, he was converted! This is what Paul is telling us when he speaks of ‘Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment’(10). Why did God allow Paul, His faithful servant, to land up in prison – for the sake of the Gospel? Part of the reason was Onesimus. God wanted Paul to meet Onesimus. Paul was to lead Onesimus to Christ. Sometimes, our difficult circumstances may feel like a prison sentence. You want to get out, but you can’t – until God has fulfilled His purpose: the ‘useless’ becomes ‘useful’- in the service of God.