Philemon is one of those books in the Bible that we know is in there, know is only a chapter long, and we might even know that it has to do something with a runaway slave. But I think I just found my new favorite book of the Bible!
I’ve read it before, but it’s always been, “OK, Paul is writing to his friend about that guy’s slave who ran away and then got saved so now Paul wants him to return to his master and wants his master to be gracious.”
That’s just the bare bones of it, though! The letter paints a beautiful picture about how to we are to deal with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Before you read this post, though, pull up YouVersion or pick up your physical Bible and read through the book. See what jumps out at you or what the Holy Spirit convicts you on. Write down what your first impressions are, and then get back to this post. Or, don’t, if you get too swept up in your own study. I am more than OK with that!
Now that you’ve read it, keep it open so you can follow along. Please read the verse(s) I mention, and then my comments.
V. 3 – A great thing about Paul’s letters is that he starts out with a blessing. A huge part of Jewish culture is blessings, and Paul exemplifies this.
V. 6 – This verse struck me because of the if/then statement he implies. “If you share your faith on a regular basis, then you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” You will be telling people about what you have received and you will have to answer their questions, which leads you into a deeper understanding of what you truly believe. That’s a great way to strengthen your faith and hopefully even somebody else’s!
V. 7 – Our service and ministry to people have an effect even beyond the people we’re directly affecting. Paul was encouraged because Philemon was refreshing the hearts of the saints around him. People need godly encouragement, and chain reactions occur when they get it, and you get encouraged by how encouraged they are and you can all praise the Lord together! 😀
V. 8-9 – Phew. This verse hit me right in the pride. Although Paul was pretty much the most widely-listened-to man at that time, the one all the churches he had planted looked up to, he didn’t bash Philemon over the head with it, but instead appealed to his brother “on the basis of love.” He absolutely could have given Phil a what-for, without sinning (in Christ, remember?), but he knew it wouldn’t be very effective. So he swallowed his pride and used humility to get his message across. I really need to work on this one.
V. 14 – Alright, this one is awesome. If more Christians had this attitude, we would have much smoother relationships. Paul didn’t want to force Phil to do anything, either by force or passive-aggressively. There are so many people, even Christians, who think it’s OK to be passive-aggressively manipulative, but what would Paul say?
V. 15-16 – A cool look on why/how God uses bad situations to accomplish greater goods.
V. 21 – “knowing that you will do even more than I ask.” Do our friends, coworkers, family, have this confidence in us that we will go the extra mile, even when it means forgiving, laying down our pride, and putting people’s past behind them?
V. 25 – This might very well be my favorite verse in the entire book! I need a LOT of grace in my spirit because I’m not someone who forgives easily or brushes things off. I need God’s grace in my spirit so that I live as someone who has been given the greatest gift ever… Because I have. 🙂
I’ll use it to sign off this post as well.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your Spirit.” – Philemon 25 (NIV)