Vs 7 I, (Paul), have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.
Vs 10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus …
Vs 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart.
Vs 16 … (Onesimus) no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother …
Vs 17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me.
Vs 20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.
Paul is sending Onesimus, Philemon’s slave, back to Philemon.
Paul wants Philemon to receive him back not as a “bondservant”, but as a “beloved brother”.
Interestingly, Paul makes his request by speaking of the heart at the beginning, middle, and end of his writing to Philemon.
Initially, Paul indicates that Philemon has “refreshed the hearts of the saints” by the sharing of his faith.
Then, Paul says that the sending of Philemon is the sending of “my very heart”.
Finally, Paul says that the warm reception of Onesimus by Philemon will “refresh my heart in Christ”.
It’s always so incredible to me to read of Paul’s transformed heart. A man who wanted people murdered for having the wrong thoughts, now speaks so frequently of “joy” and “love” and “heart”.
It is so clear that Paul is a new person in Christ. And now Onesimus, a slave, is a new person … a “brother”.
But a new creation must reveal and show himself to be new with new actions.
Philemon, if he has a “refreshed heart”, will accept Philemon back as a “brother”, not as his runaway slave.
Each of the three here, regardless of status, teacher, student, or slave, are “brothers”.
Paul tells Philemon to receive Onesimus as he would Paul.
So, the question to me is, Would I receive the “lowliest new Cristian” just as I would a “hero of my faith”?
Would I treat people different? Would I distinguish my respect for any two Christians?
Paul, the teacher, says it would “refresh his heart” to treat all as brothers.
Another lesson from Paul for me here … Paul, the “superior teacher”, is sending what is useful to him away from himself to be useful for the sake of others.
Am I willing to do so?
Is it “refreshing to my heart” for me to experience loss so that others may gain?
Paul say this is the only “benefit” he wants … the “refresh of my heart in Christ” when brothers in Christ reconcile and pour themselves out for “the sake of Christ”.
What an amazing letter written by a man in prison.
Could I write while in prison that I am personally experiencing “joy” and “comfort” and “love” and a “refreshed heart”?
This is a man truly willing to be poured out.
Paul asks me to do nothing that he has not done himself.
Thank you, God, for your Word.
Help me see all Christians as my brother.
Help me release who is useful to me for the benefit of others.
Help me have the benefit of a refreshed heart
In Jesus name