A man walking through the New England woods found a very undesirable wild grape. He worked long and carefully with it and it became the delicious concord grape.
Luther Burbank took many fruits of little or no value and developed them into great value as food. It is splendid to turn an unprofitable thing into something of value, but it is far greater to take unprofitable human beings and make them valuable.
As columnist John R. Gunn writes, "This is what the apostle Paul did with a slave Onesimus." Onesimus means profitable or worth. Making a play on this name, Paul wrote Philemon, the slave's owner. Once you found him a worthless character, he said, but nowadays he is worth something to you and me.
Onesimus had stolen from his master. He ran away, was a drifter in Rome, when some of Paul's Christian friends found him and brought him to Paul's prison cell.
Paul taught him of Jesus and the slave became a Christian, which brought about a complete reformation in the man's life. Afterward, Paul sent Onesimus back to his master, who was also a Christian, sending a letter with the returning slave.
Paul performed a noble service. He took a man of a moral liability and made him a useful member of society. And he restored to Philemon that which was lost. When Philemon learned the change in his slave's life, he took the next step - he freed Onesimus. In time, the former slave became a preacher and finally, a Bishop.
This is the business of the Christian. This is the great purpose of the gospel of Christ - to transform lives. No greater service or joy can come to a man than to accept this challenge. And through the power of Jesus Christ, work to make the useless, useful.