Paul wrote to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus, whom we assume is a runaway slave. We are not told the reasons why he left or what happened as a result of the letter. We only know that when Onesimus left he met Paul and Paul led him to Christ. Today, we will read the first 7 verses of the letter. Paul began the letter by telling Philemon how much he meant to him.
Verses 4-5 read,
“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints”
We see that Philemon was not only a Christian in name but he lived out his faith and that it was obvious to the world. Paul recognized Philemon’s love for Jesus and the church. Love is the fruit of the Spirit, the nature of God, the manifestation of His will, and the command Jesus gave us. Our love should be that apparent. When people think of us they should be able to say we love well and we have strong faith.
Faith is a gift from God given to all believers, it is what allows us to believe in the first place. But we have to choose to continually exercise it. Through trials we trust that God has got us, that He will carry us through, and that He will use those difficulties to make us more like Jesus. Strong faith is not an automatic. We choose to have faith, just as we choose to love. Philemon’s love and faith were well known among the church.
It is also apparent that Philemon made a point of sharing his faith with others. Verse 6 reads,
“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."
Sharing the Gospel is the demonstration of our love and faith in Jesus. If we love the Lord, we want what He wants, we love what He loves, and we do as He commands. He wants the lost to know Him. He loves the lost just as much as He loves us. And He commands us to make disciples. Philemon was doing that. But apparently he was not being as effective as he could be.
I know I have felt ineffective in sharing my faith at times. I don’t often get to see the fruit of the seeds I plant. But I do trust that when I share God’s Word with people that it will have impact. Isaiah 55:10-11 tell us,
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
I want to make a difference. I’m sure you do as well. So what is the secret to becoming more effective in sharing our faith? It is prayer, maturation, and coming to know God more completely. As we know God more and as we grow to be more like Jesus, we become more influential because we are able to let the Spirit do the guiding, talking, and demonstrating. That is good for others and it is good for us.
Our walk with the Lord makes an impression on people. It touches the lost and it touches our brothers and sisters. We can rejoice for each other in our services to God. We all have a shared mission of leading people to Christ and of being conformed to His image. It is wonderful to see it happen. What an encouragement for one another when we live and walk expressing God’s great love and awesome faith. Verse 7 says,
“For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.”
I encourage you today to live out your salvation. Make your mark on the world by revealing love and faith wherever you are. Share your faith. Love intentionally. Let your life be a testimony to the tremendous beauty and astounding love of Jesus Christ.