Philemon is an infamous book from the New Testament. It is just composed of 25 short verses. I didn’t even remember reading this book from the New Testament. And as we all are just staying home because of these trying times, I realized that I could not let this one book just pass by. I’ve told myself that I’m not going to proceed to the next book which is one of my favorite books – Hebrews, unless I have something to take away from Philemon. Finally, it took me a day to have an answer from a question: “What good could I get from the book of Philemon?”
Reading Paul’s epistles is like one of God’s way for me to know more of Paul’s heart for the churches he has planted and its people. Honestly, when I hear of Paul’s name, the picture of him having encountered Jesus on his way to Damascus is all that I have in mind. Little did I know that I also need to read through his sufferings and most importantly, his very heart.
Paul prayed for Philemon’s faith to be effective
“..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.” Philemon 1:6
Paul knew that he won’t have much time and much means to enumerate the things that should be done in every church he has planted. He only wrote and reminded the things that matter most. He prayed that Philemon’s faith to be effective for him and for the people to know that every good thing that is shown and experienced are of Christ and for Christ. In other words Paul wants them to experience it themselves. He believed that faith would always be effective when a person knows why he/she acquires it and what it’s for.
Paul prayed for Philemon to act according to his willingness
“..but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.” Philemon 1:14
Honestly, I don’t know much about Philemon’s ministry but I pray that I there would come a time that I will be graciously given a chance to know the Scriptures more. But I believe that God was simply just showing Paul’s heart to me, best case: He lets me experience it. How glorious.
In this verse, Paul was acting as a leader. A leader’s heart should be like this. Paul prayed that Philemon might act according to his willingness. He didn’t want anyone to act like they are under a compulsion. The Apostle knows how beautiful and satisfying it is to act because you are compelled by Christ’s love.
Why don’t we have Paul’s heart then? Do the situations around us change over time? They don’t. Things are always uncertain. For me, one of the best things to learn is to how to have a heart like Paul’s. He wasn’t anxious of anything. He simply wanted his brothers in Christ to show people what they have experienced in Christ firsthand. This is so simple but we don’t remind ourselves about this because we tend to forget to hunger and thirst for God’s voice.
All Scripture is God-breathed.. (2 Timothy 3:16). We even forget about this epistle’s importance and life.