Philemon 1:4 When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God 5 because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith toward the Lord Jesus. 6 I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ. 7 I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother.
In this very short letter, the apostle Paul was writing to an early church leader named Philemon. While the verses shared here are more introductory remarks than the body of the letter, I was intrigued nonetheless. Two things jump out at me in particular:
v.6 I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ.
Philemon was not an apostle like Paul, so he did not have the preaching ability, or teaching ability, or standing in the community that Paul did. Nevertheless, Paul made it clear that Philemon had a very powerful asset enabling him to share his faith – though it would seem that Philemon wasn’t aware of this asset. What was this valuable asset for sharing faith?
7 I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother.
The asset Philmon possessed was “love”. The Greek word translated into English as “love” is “agape”. Agape is a powerful Greek concept that refers to a specific form of love. It’s not a romantic love, but a love that serves, that gives, that sacrifices for the sake of another. It’s the kind of love Jesus demonstrated during his time on earth. Paul indicated that Philemon’s “agape” provided joy and encouragement to Paul. He also wrote, “the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother.”
I speak with church people all the time who believe they have little capacity with which to share their faith. They don’t see themselves as teachers or preachers or evangelists – people who are trained to say just the right word, in the right way, at the right time.
Today’s passage reminds us that sharing faith isn’t so much about what you say, but what you do. When you love, serve, share, sacrifice for others – you are indeed sharing your faith in a powerful way. Try it today. See what happens. You’ll brighten someone’s day, and you will bring honor to our Lord Jesus Christ.