Journal Philemon (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier and the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
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.” Philemon 1-7
Observation: These short notes from Paul are interesting—but I wonder why the Holy Spirit has included them in the Canon? My bet is that this is here to engage our wonder…
The key for me today is the phrase “…because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.”
Application: It seems that the Holy Spirit’s objective through the Scriptures is not only supplying us with godly data but also giving us application to change our thinking…”Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed (changed) by the renewal of your mind…” (Rom 12:2)
When I read books like Philemon I try to insert myself in the letter (pulling on my English Lit experience from High School) and evaluate/analyze from there.
Two things I see: “…the church in your house…” and Philemon’s love—commended by Paul—because of his refreshing the hearts of the saints. Presumably Paul is referencing the home church as being the focus of hearts being refreshed.
It is a stretch perhaps but I am reminded of Peter’s letter: “The End of all things is at hand…” and verse 9: “Show hospitality without grumbling.” (1 Pet 4:7-9)
If I put these two thoughts together I find a wonderful commendation for the importance of small groups.
If this is really tilting true, then the gathering of saints in small groups has an important function: “refreshing the hearts of the saints.”
But not only that my mind starts to think about “How do I refresh the heart of any Believer I come across?”—like for instance (and specifically) my Wife and Children?
My eyes and heart are in training to “count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil 2:4-5) and “…how to stir up one another to love and good works.” (Heb 10:24) Training myself in this way is hard. Why? Because that Old Man wants to take first place over anybody else up to and including suffering wrong for the sake of Christ.
Philemon is a figure that I should really consider imitating more. He cared passionately for the men and women that he was appointed by God to serve in His Name—even if he didn’t recognize it himself. Paul recognized this in just hearing about the “church in his house” and not only commended him for it but also bringing it up to the Most High when remembered in his prayers.
- Prayer: One day, O Lord, make my aspirations become reality. Until then or That Day I will be content (and ask You to make me content) to serve in the manner of Philemon where I am—right here, right now and rest in You. PS: I know I struggle in this and that You see me. Help me to repent. AMEN.