Can you think of individuals that have had a positive impact on your life? Perhaps they had a big influence on your major decisions, a source of inspiration, or, perhaps, they were simply a source of encourage on a regular basis. People can impact others in so many different ways.
Philemon is an example of an individual who could have been seen as a positive influence, and we’re going to take some time in the book of Philemon and examine the effect Philemon had on others.
Philemon – An Example of Encouragement
The congregation that Philemon belongs to is the church in Colossi by necessary inference (Colossians 4:9,17). What are some of the qualities Paul mentions regarding Philemon?
- Beloved brother & fellow worker (Philemon 1)
- Love & faith (Philemon 5)
- Fellowship & knowledge (Philemon 6)
- Obedient (Philemon 21)
In verse 7, joy and comfort are results of these qualities. He goes on to say in the same verse that this individual refreshes other Christians as well. Much like we find kindness and manners refreshing in a society permeated with rudeness and cruelty, Paul and other Christians found similar comfort in Philemon’s demeanor. As Christians, we should be the most encouraging people others will meet.
How does the rest of the book play out? Paul appeals to Philemon’s spiritual nature on behalf of a servant named Onesimus – one who had once served Philemon and is now an encouragement to Paul. Verse 20 is a request from Paul for that same refreshment Philemon has given to others by simply doing the right thing.
Our Encouraging Example
John 13:34, I Thessalonians 4:9, Hebrews 13:1, I peter 1:22, Romans 12:10, Romans 12:16, Romans 15:7, John 13:14, Ephesians 5:2, Ephesians 5:21, and many other verses speak to the comfort and encouragement we should be for each other. We are to be refreshing to others and to each other.
Unfortunately, some Christians are very talented at tearing down as opposed to building up. We can too easily focus on the wrong we perceive in the congregation and the members. However, what do we want to accomplish? Do we want to answer for the hope within us, or do we want to answer for our sour attitudes?
Am I living my life in such a way that I bring joy, comfort, and refreshment to others? Am I an encouragement to others? How can I achieve this goal? Philemon’s example, along with the multitude of scriptures referencing our attitude and behaviors toward one another, is a good place to start.
lesson by Ben Lanius