Philemon’s Love and Faith
Open Your Bible
Philemon 1:1-7, Psalm 23:1-6, Philippians 1:3-11
Reading Paul’s epistles can make me nostalgic for the days of hand-written letters. A child of the nineties, I’m old enough to remember the time before email and other electronic communications, when snail mail was just mail. The memory doesn’t fade: the sound of my pen scratching against my notepad as an adolescent me inked a letter to a friend or a relative. There was something personal about licking the envelope (even though Mom said to use a sponge) and the gross (but secretly liked) aftertaste, then dropping it off in the mailbox.
In addition to writing to the church at Colossae, Paul also sent a letter to his friend, Philemon, who lived in Colossae, on behalf of another friend, Onesimus. Paul penned both letters during his house arrest in Rome. In the opening verses from Philemon, we’re given a picture of who we are to be to one another, and what active involvement in the Church really looks like. We also discover that Philemon was actively involved in the Christian community in Colossae, hosting church gatherings at his house (Philemon 1:2).
Paul tells us Philemon was a source of “great joy and encouragement” because of his service among the Colossian believers, causing “the hearts of the saints [to be] refreshed through [him]” (v.7). It seems Philemon was more than a friend to Paul—he was a brother in the faith (v.7).
Because of the gospel, we, too, are deeply connected to each other; we are a faith family, yet ours is more dynamic than distant relatives who only see each occasionally or even a close-knit family. God intends for us to be fully present in our relationships with the believers in our lives. As our Good Shepherd, He has made provisions for all of our needs, spiritual and natural (Psalm 23:1), and He often uses the members of our Church family to meet our needs, and vice versa.
Daily, we move toward relationships in love, refreshing hearts when we show up for one another. That can look like contributing our financial resources or sharing a meal. That can look like walking with those experiencing hard seasons of loss and offering comfort. And showing up especially includes forgiveness. As sources of joy and comfort, we support each other in every situation, good or bad, committed to one another’s spiritual growth.
Philemon’s love and faith were a testament to the love and sacrifice that Jesus demonstrated through His life and death. The gospel is the foundation and continuing motivation for all our acts of love. God calls every one of us to live out our salvation among His family of believers. Let’s continue to seek the Lord for specific ways in which we can refresh the hearts of the people God has placed in our lives.