4 I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints; 6 and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake. 7 For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother. 8 Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, 9 yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you-since I am such a person as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus –
The word “saint” comes from the word “sanctified” which means “set apart.” A saint is one who is set apart for the service of God. In other words, saint is a word for a believer in Christ. The biggest sign of being a saint is what we read in verse 5: having love and faith towards Jesus and our brothers and sisters in Christ. I think, however, we need to be educated on what this love actually looks like. These days, we have different concepts of what love is and looks like. Some define love as merely having a sexual relationship, others see it as giving gifts, while others as speaking kindly to one another. If you have ever read The 5 Love Languages, you might understand a bit about what I am saying. Regardless if you have read the book, the fact remains that everyone has his or her own unique perspective of what love is. Today we get to see what God says about love.
It is wise.
In verse 6, Paul talks about how Philemon spends regular time with others and he puts to use what he has learned about God during these times. Our knowledge is only important to the extent of which we use it. Philemon here puts to use what he knows about God and his relationship with God by pouring it out on others. When asked about the most important commandment of God, Jesus responded by quoting the two that talk about love as we read in Matthew 22:
37 And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' 38 "This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' 40 "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."
Wisdom is the proper use of the knowledge we have and Philemon put to use what he knew.
It refreshes others.
One of the things I have noticed in studying Jesus’ ministry is that others loved to be around Him. Even the Pharisees, who often were rebuked for their religion, drew near to Him. What kind of personality must you have for this to happen? Philemon was the same way in that he was a joy to be around. He loved others wholeheartedly and unconditionally and he drew a crowd whenever he was in town. Some may quip that it was because Jesus was the Son of God that everyone flocked to Him, but if you pay attention, this is a truth He only shared with those close to Him. Everyone else drew near because they liked hanging out with the guy!
It does the right thing.
We are still in the introduction to Paul’s letter to Philemon and at the end we see the transition towards why Paul is writing in the first place. Not only does Paul highlight that Philemon loves enough to do the right thing, but also Paul out of the same spirit of love is being intentional in communicating his wishes. The love of a saint is love that always seeks to do what is right and makes sure that communication is established. In attending lessons and reading books about marriage, I have learned over and again the importance of communication in a relationship; this is Paul’s intent with Philemon, to make sure nothing is left unsaid or miscommunicated.
We would do good this Valentine’s Day to focus on these traits to reflect the love of Christ to others.