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Philemon – Faith and Love

12 Oct

Today we start (and possibly will finish) Philemon! – This is what God gave me today in his word:

Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, (Philemon 1:1-5)

Notice what exactly it is all these people are being commended for. Paul says, “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith…” They’re being commended for their love and faith. But why? There’s no doubt of course that every Christian needs faith (for God) and love (for both God and man), but he doesn’t mention he’s thankful for the Corinthians love or faith when he writes in his first letter to them. So why does he seem to specifically mention there’s? 

Why is their amounts of faith and love so important to Paul?

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. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. (Philemon 1:6-7)

He’s commending them for sharing their faith and love, to be more accurate. What good is it to have a trillion dollars, in the desert (a desert where there’s you and no one else)? No good what-so-ever. Money only has value if there’s something to spend it on. It only has value, if you can give it to someone else, and receive something back. – What good is love and faith (spiritual treasures) if we don’t use our faith and love in the way God wants us to use it, we might as well not have it! We have faith, so do Demons. Whoopee. We have love. So what? If we don’t love others, but instead just love ourselves, it’s worse than if we didn’t have any love at all.

Everyone needs faith in God. That’s a true statement, yes, but it’s also an incomplete one. As James puts it, “Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18). Imagine a Christian, a true warrior for God, staring at his armor. He’s polished it, he’s made sure there isn’t so much as a scratch on it. So he stares at it and continues staring, he never puts it on, just stares. That armor is useless, might as well not even exist. Why? Because it’s not being used for the purpose it was given for! God has given us a faith in Jesus, a love for others and Himself, now if go hole up and never do anything with that love and faith, it’s useless to us and God. Why? Because we’re not using it for the reason God gave it to us for. – So then, what is the reason God gave us faith and love?

I’ll put it this way: faith and love aren’t two things, they are two actions; meaning that the reason God has given us faith and love is so that we can use them. Paul puts it more clearly:

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.

For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

The first half, describes faith. The second, love. Through their sharing of their faith; their belief that Jesus died and rose again for us, Paul was encouraged. Because they refreshed the hearts of fellow saints through their love, he was given joy and
comfort. Nothing (at least, as far as this is concerned) should have changed between back then and right now. We should still refresh others hearts; still be refreshed by others, and should still share our faith.

We’ve now established two things: #1. We do in fact need to share our faith in God with others and, #2. We need to use the love God has given us to refresh others.

Now then, how exactly is it we get faith and love (we can’t help others if we don’t know ourselves). Through Jesus’ death and Resurrection; it’s impossible to love someone, if there is no love in your heart. Before we were saved, our hearts where pretty much stone. How can you have faith, if there isn’t anything to have faith in? Jesus gave us both the actual faith in him, and something to have faith in (himself…). – The point being: love comes from faith, faith comes from God.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

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