|Refreshing the Hearts of God’s People|
Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker- also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier- and to the church that meets in your home: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. 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. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
Philemon 1:1-7 NIV
We pick up our Weekly Scripture Study, with a short Pauline epistle. Nestled between Titus and Hebrews comes a small letter: Philemon. A church met in this man’s home. Paul wrote him to ask that he receive a former slave, Onesimus, back into his fellowship as if it were Paul coming.
Paul usually opened his letters by establishing his apostleship, but in this letter, Paul reminded Philemon that he was in prison for preaching the gospel. Paul then addresses Philemon.
Philemon was so committed to Christ that he was counted “beloved” by Paul himself. Philemon was working so faithfully for Christ that Paul could acknowledge his labor and count him as a fellow-laborer, as working as diligently as Paul himself in the cause of Christ.
Philemon demonstrated his commitment by opening his home. Remember that the early church did not have church sanctuaries to meet in; they met in homes of faithful and committed believers. Philemon loved Christ so much that he was willing to open his home night after night and week after week for believers to worship and study God’s Word together.
What would it look like for you to open your home, (or yard) to regularly invite people over?
What would it take to overcome the tiredness and the housecleaning (or leaf raking) required? Philemon’s kind hospitality was such that it refreshed the hearts of God’s people. We have the privilege of doing likewise.
Are there ways you could be practicing hospitality of your time or space?