Spirit of God, I thank you for giving me energy when I am about to give up, and for slowing me down when I am overheated.
Read PHILEMON 1:1-11
1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— 2 also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home:
3 Grace and peace to you[a] from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. 6 I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. 7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
Paul’s Plea for Onesimus
8 Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, 9 yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10 that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus,[b] who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWho do you consider are your partners in the faith? How do you express gratitude for them and for the things you share together?
Christmas: a time of being in touch, and perhaps letter writing! It’s doubtful though that our letters bear the solidness and passion of Paul’s letter to Philemon, or will still be worth reading so many years later. Paul is in prison for his faith. But he keeps his finger on the pulse of praise and service to God and the Christian community. Here he is writing to Philemon about his runaway slave Onesimus who has shown up in prison in Rome (v 10).
Paul feels a special kinship with Onesimus because Paul has led him to Christ (v 10). He is aware that the responsibility of guiding someone to salvation does not end with the ‘amen’ to a prayer of commitment. Follow-up and nurture will be needed.
The letter is also addressed to the church that meets in the house of Philemon (v 2), so it is not only the leaders who should be concerned to welcome him back. He is no longer a slave but their equal as a man of God. He will need a lot of care and building up, and this will be the responsibility of all of them.
Think about some of the people you have shared your faith with (whatever stage of their journey they’re at, whether you are still in touch or not). In light of Paul’s letter to Philemon, what things can you pray for that will help their faith grow?
Father, I thank you for a mind that can think, a heart that can feel, and hands that can do. Use me in this coming year, I pray.
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