PHILEMON 4-7 – I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.”
THEME OF THE DAY: ARE WE THAT TYPE OF CHRISTIAN? Imagine being in a church, Bible study, prayer group, and gospel service with the man in today’s scripture – Philemon. Further imagine what it would be like to consistently be like Philemon in our relationships with other Christians. Go back up and list the qualities the Apostle Paul affirms was in this beloved brother of his. Philemon loved the Lord Jesus and people; gave testimony of vibrant faith in the Lord Jesus; was active in sharing the Gospel; and was known as an “oasis of refreshment” to other believers. And don’t lose sight of this . . . his love for people was impartial. He was known for his love of “all the saints” so we would never find Philemon guilty of forming cliques or just hanging out with “his people”. No, here is a man that learned to live what is to be the controlling agent in all God’s people; Christ’s love – For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died (2 Corinthians 5:14).
So how is a such a life cultivated and maintained? It is not complex, but also not easy. Simple to understand but not to practice. Yet, it is what God expects and provides for His people. Philemon is not some super Christian far above the norm. No, he is the norm. It is us who are not like him that is out of the norm. If we are to be such Christians, at least two things must be understood and applied in our lives.
To be a Philemon-type of Christian starts with an all-consuming passion for Jesus Christ. He is the center of everything for us. He captures our hearts. He fills our minds. His will drives our lifestyle. All Christian growth and influence begins here. We are to have the passion of the Apostle Paul – For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). The great leader of the Moravian church said of his life, “I have one passion: it is He, He alone.” It was Christ that was his passion, and He must likewise be so for us if we want to be changed from the inside out to be like Philemon who was like Christ.
The next step necessary to become like Philemon, which is to become like Christ, is to ensure the passion translates into the disciplined pursuit. No Christian is transformed who gives half-hearted and minimal efforts to know the living God. The knowledge and enjoyment of Christ depend on the place Christ holds in our lives. He is most enjoyed when He is the chief affection of the heart and greatest pursuit in life. We are told what is required in the seeking of God and the reward to those who meet the requirement. It is provided by the prophet Jeremiah – You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord (Jeremiah 29:13-14a).
Each of us is some type of Christian, and the choices are only two – healthy, conforming to Christ like Philemon or unhealthy, poisoned by the world and our selfishness making us quite unlike Christ. Which one are we? And if the latter, thank God for His mercy and grace that transforms us to the former.
PRAYER: “Father, may I be a Christian who refreshes others with encouragement not drain them with discouragement.”
QUOTE: “The quality of our spiritual walks with Jesus will always be revealed in our relationships with other Christians.”
In the affection of Christ Jesus,