How do people come away from interacting with you? Think about some of the recent times that you have interacted with people. Maybe it was your family members. Perhaps it was co-workers. Or even social media posts. Try to put yourself in the shoes of the people who were with you, or who were reading your posts or viewing your videos. What impression did you give them? Were you complaining? Angry? Joyful? Hopeful?
We started this series of posts asking, “Are you able to see yourself for who you really are?” In this fifth part in our series on Philemon verses 1-7, if you read verse 7, you’ll see that Paul really encourages Philemon, helping Philemon see himself for who he truly is. It appears that Philemon was a really great guy. But how so?
Paul says that Philemon’s love has given Paul great joy and encouragement, because Philemon has refreshed the hearts of the saints. I wish I knew what Paul meant by that, but it would appear that Philemon was a very loving, encouraging person. He was full of faith, to the point that when people visited Paul in Rome on house arrest, they talked about Philemon. Paul was overjoyed to hear how Philemon was living out his faith.
It is amazing to consider that Paul would be able to say this while in prison! Paul really wants Philemon to be happy to be holding that letter in his hands and reading it. Why? He’s getting there. Next week in the series on Philemon 8-25, we’ll get the answer to the question of “Why?”
For now, let’s consider what we have heard in verses 1-7. The character of Philemon is quite impressive. If you want, go back and read the previous parts of this series, starting here.
What we saw is that Philemon has qualities that are worth emulating: faith, love for all the saints, love that gave Paul great joy and encouragement, and finally, because Philemon was a giver of joy and encouragement, he refreshed the hearts of the saints
In other words, Paul sees Christ in Philemon.
Therefore I have a question we all should ask: do others see Christ in me?
They will see Christ in you if you are like Philemon. Full of faith, having a love for all the people in the church family, love that gives joy and encouragement, so that people’s hearts are refreshed after spending time with you.
Think about that. How do people react to you? Do they come away from their interaction with you encouraged, joyful, feeling loved? What about your social media posts? What about your interactions on the phone? How do you handle yourself in meetings? Would people say that you refresh their hearts?
If not, what do you need to confess? How do you need to repent? And what do you need to change in order to become more like Philemon, who was a refresher of hearts?