You may have noticed that some young believers get easily shunned. There are varying factors. It could be their quiet personality, or their socio-economic status, or their background that hinders them from fitting in. They just seem … different to most. Or, perhaps they are being mistreated, having been prejudicially misunderstood. Whatever it is, it’s not that they want to be lonely and excluded. It’s not that they want to slowly drift further to the edges of practical fellowship and then slide away into a land of forgetfulness. They need a friend.
It’s good to have men like Ebed-melech, isn’t it? It’s also good for you to be like Ebed-melech, a faithful man and a true friend. There was Jeremiah in the dungeon and no one else seemed to care too much about him. But Ebed-melech the Ethiopian knew that Jeremiah was being treated unjustly and he reached out to him. The rest of Jeremiah 38 doesn’t give us any hint that what Ebed-melech did was all that notable, but at the end of the next chapter, a word from the LORD is brought to Ebed-melech: Judgment is coming, “but I will deliver thee in that day” (Jer 39:17), reward for a faithful friend, in that day.
Onesiphorus is another great example. His friend had been forsaken and criticized by other believers, and now many were embarrassed or afraid to associate themselves with him. His name was Paul and he was imprisoned, somewhere in the metropolis of Rome. Concerning Onesiphorus, Paul says, “He often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: but, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me” (2Tim 1:16-17). I don’t know if Onesiphorus was an elder, a great preacher, or if he regularly spoke at the children’s meeting. But I know he was a true friend to an isolated Christian. “A friend loves at all times” (Prov 17:17). Was there any significant reward for Onesiphorus? Perhaps some joy in knowing he’d encouraged Paul. But the true and greater reward will yet be given at the Judgment Seat of Christ. A reward? At the Judgment Seat? Just for being a friend? Yes. Paul says, “May the Lord grant him to find mercy of the Lord on that Day!” (2Tim 1:18, ESV). “That day,” mentioned three times in 2 Timothy, is the day of reward.
If you stop and consider for a moment, you can likely think of someone who would really appreciate you reaching out to them with a text message, or even better, a visit. It could be a young person who is struggling to fit in, or an older believer who can’t make it out to meetings. It could be someone who is unjustly looked upon as different. Whoever it is, they are the Lord’s, but slipping out of touch with the Lord’s people. Pray for them and, like Onesiphorus, seek them out. The Lord notices these faithful acts of mercy and will show you mercy as He rewards you “on that Day.”