This Day in History: 0000-06-04

June 4 – Philemon 1:4-9

I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.  That is why I am boldly asking a favor of you. I could demand it in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do. But because of our love, I prefer to simply ask you…

These verses offer a wonderful example for us of what our relationships with each other in the family of God ought to look like.  In the short book of Philemon, Paul is writing a letter to his friend, and brother in Christ, Philemon.  At the time he writes the letter, Paul is in prison.  While there, he had met a man named Onesimus who apparently was a slave who had run away from the home of his master – none other than Philemon.  Paul had been able to build a relationship with Onesimus and led him to the Lord.  Now, Onesimus was being released from prison, and Paul had convinced him to do the right thing and return to his master.  At the same time, Paul sends a letter to Philemon along with Onesimus, appealing to him to take it easy on this new brother in Christ.  Let’s look together at how Paul makes this request and see what lessons we can learn and apply to our dealings with one another.

-Paul shows an interest in Philemon by keeping track of what is happening in his life.  As he does, he prays for Philemon often and thanks God for him. 
Do we pray for our fellow believers?  Often?  Do we thank God for them?  Do we keep track of what’s going on in each other’s lives and ministries and partner with one another in prayer?  Do we thank God for the work that others are accomplishing all over the world?  Or are we so consumed with our own day-to-day lives that Kingdom efforts barely register on our radar?  As we become more and more in line with the heart of our Lord, these things will grow in importance to us and the unimportant details of life will diminish.

-Paul encourages Philemon by praising him.  He seems to understand that even though our efforts are for God alone, everyone is encouraged to persist when others notice these accomplishments and build one another up.
Are we taking the time to notice the efforts of our brothers and sisters?  Are we telling them what we see, and thanking them?  Are we encouraging them to keep up the good work?  Let’s resolve today to become the very best cheer-leaders team Jesus has ever had! Let’s do our very best to look for every effort to build one another up!

-Paul appeals to Philemon’s reputation as a man of integrity and love and makes his request with boldness.
When we feel like another believer is headed down a bad path or has the potential to make a poor decision, do we have the courage to come right out with it and appeal to their integrity with boldness?  Or are we more likely to ask the opinion of at least three others (gossip!!!) and then decide to keep it to ourselves and just pray for them?  Yikes, am I right? That question certainly stung a little on this end! Let’s take a page from Paul’s playbook and make every effort to have enough respect for one another to be direct.  Let’s hold each other accountable, but let’s do so from a place of love, respect, and humility.  Let’s assume that honor and virtue will drive the other and simply make our requests.

Most importantly, let’s remember that we are all part of the same family. We’re on the same team!  Let’s make every effort to work together!