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useless to useful…


That’s what they called him.


It was literally the meaning of his name.


Can you imagine if that was the word used to describe you?

There is a man in the book of Philemon that was known for it.

Onesimus was described by Paul as useless, and for good reason. He was a slave who had stolen from his master and then run away. He had done nothing good.

He was useless…until he was radically saved.

After the conversion, Paul called him a child of God that was useful for his ministry.

The saving power of Jesus Christ took him from useless to useful.

Isn’t that true for all of us?

Without Christ, we are dead in sin, useless for doing good works for the kingdom.

With Christ, we are given new life, useful with the power of the Spirit to do good works.


Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”


Titus 2:14, “He (Jesus) gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.”


James 2:17 & 3:13, “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is useless….If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.”


These verses declare that it’s the transforming power of Christ that enables us to do good works…and a person who uses that power and does good works for the kingdom is useful.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be called useful – not useless. I have no desire to stand before the throne at the end of my life and account for being useless. I want to stand before my Heavenly Father, having done all I could, and hear him say, “well done, good and faithful servant.”


This leads me to ask the following 2 questions:

  1. Do I have the transforming power of Christ working in my life?
  2. Am I using that power to do good works?


If I can answer “yes” to both of those questions, I am headed in the direction of being useful for the kingdom.

If I answer no to either or both of those, I need to examine if I am headed in the direction of being useless for the kingdom.

Honestly, there have been many years of my life that I have been useless for the kingdom. I operated in my own strength and I cared only about myself and my desires. I accomplished much, but none of it was useful to God.

These days, I am intentional to make sure that my life is dedicated to him and his purposes. Every morning, I surrender my day to his will and his plan. I may be pretty insignificant in the eyes of the world, but I’m doing my best to be useful.

How about you, friend? Would you describe yourself as useless, useful or somewhere in the middle?

Together, let’s resolve to be people who do good deeds. Not as a way to earn salvation, but out of thankfulness to the God who gave us the gift of new life through his incredible grace. Let’s be people who are useful in sharing his great love to others!

Practically speaking, what does it look like to do good works that are useful?

I think it looks a lot like loving and serving others: treating people with kindness, gentleness, goodness, mercy, grace, and patience and joy (Galatians 5:22) and putting their needs ahead of your own (Philippians 2:3-4). In addition, it looks like doing good by meeting the urgent needs of others: food, clothing, and shelter (Titus 3:14). It’s also being bold in sharing the truth with others (2 Timothy 1:8).


Can I humbly encourage you to pray and ask God to fill you with his Spirit and empower you to do good works today? And then to take a minute and plan a good work? It doesn’t have to be crazy or big! No act of goodness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

Suggestions for being useful

  • Be kind to a stranger
  • Bring a meal to someone who needs help
  • Send an encouraging message to a friend who is struggling
  • Sign up to serve food at a shelter
  • Donate to a charity that is doing good work
  • Hug someone who feels lonely
  • Pray for someone who is hurting

As always, I love hearing from you. Email me or comment below and I would love to get on my knees for you. Feel free to share, forward and re-post this blog – I appreciate your help spreading the word. Let’s do this faith journey together.




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