October 27, 2017
I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people (vv.4-5).
READ: Philemon 1:1-7, 22
My husband, Paul, heard about me before he ever met me. He knew a colleague of mine and kept hearing stories about “this South African girl”. I was a young woman living overseas and on my own for the first time. On one occasion, I put five litres of oil (only one was needed) into my car and flooded the engine—sadly killing off the first vehicle I owned in England. Despite my apparent reputation for not being able to a maintain a car, Paul was eager to come to my rescue. When we did meet, sometime later, we instantly clicked and in time fell in love.
What do people hear of you? What’s your reputation?
Philemon had a good ‘rep’. The apostle Paul had personally discipled him and continued to receive admirable reports about him. “I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people” (Philemon 1:1-5).
Paul wrote to Philemon with a difficult request. He wanted him to welcome back Onesimus (Philemon’s runaway slave) with kindness. The apostle therefore began his letter by reminding Philemon of his reputation. “Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people” (v.7). He appealed to Philemon’s standing as a man of faith. Paul encouraged him to put his faith into action by welcoming Onesimus back without penalty or punishment and to treat him as a true brother in Christ (v.6).
As in Philemon’s life, Jesus can provide the grace and strength we need to live out His welcoming, loving ways. He can work in and through us to establish a reputation that causes others to worship Him. May our kindness towards others reflect His kindness towards us!
365-day-plan: Acts 12:1-25
Read Daniel 6:3-4 and be encouraged by Daniel’s exemplary reputation which reflected his dedication to God.
What’s your reputation within your sphere of influence? What practical things can you do to become known as a person of great faith and integrity?