Today’s readings.. (Joshua 15), (Isaiah 20),(Isaiah 21), (Philemon 1)

Today we read Paul’s shortest letter, a unique personal message between one brother and another – and it teaches us one particular valuable lesson. Philemon is a special associate of Paul, he calls him, “our beloved fellow worker” [v.1] and says, “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 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.” [v.4-6] How wonderful if all believers could write to each other in such terms in “the sharing of (their) faith.”

The cause of the letter is that a slave, Onesimus, who ran away from Philemon had been converted to Christ and had become “useful” to Paul who is suffering “imprisonment for the gospel” [v.13].  The name Onesimus means ‘Useful.’ Paul has decided he should send him back to Philemon “no longer as a slave (bondservant), but more than a slave, as a beloved brother”[v.16]. 

Paul writes, “If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account” [v.18]  Paul means his ‘spiritual’ account, for Philemon himself is indebted to Paul  for his hope of eternal life.  Paul is anticipating a positive response from Philemon, so he says, “Yes brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.” [v.20,21]

What an example to us!   All genuine committed believers should take every opportunity to say to each other with real expectation of response, “Refresh my heart in Christ” and to remember one another in their prayers.

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