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, 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 1:4-7 ESV).
When I read this verse I immediately thought of a particular lady in a church I pastored some years ago. She was the founder and leader of the Loss Support Group. She was someone who continually “refreshes the hearts of God’s people.” I could have picked many others to write about, but she was the first to come to mind. Even though I did not always get to see her on Sundays, because of the crowds; if I had had an exceptionally stressful week, I made sure our paths crossed for a “pick me up”. She always had a kind word and a reassuring attitude to share. I often took others to see her, just because she left people around her with such a warm, refreshed feeling.
Philemon was that kind of guy. Paul praises him for his work among the church. He must have been an encourager. Whenever Paul thought of Philemon, it gave him a warm feeling. Perhaps thinking of Philemon, and those like him who serve in love, helped keep Paul from losing his mind while locked up in a cold prison cell. Paul needed the encouragement of knowing there were still people who cared whether he lived or died.
We all need that type of encouragement. Regardless of how mature in our faith we become, we need someone around to help keep our spirits strong. We need someone who we can trust, someone who can bring a smile to our face, someone who has our best interests at heart. Yes, even though the Lord is our “friend who sticks closer than a brother”, I firmly believe God surrounds us with Christian friends to help make this fallen world a bit more tolerable.
Do you have a friend like that? Better still, are you a friend like that? Can others count on you for a kind word, a smile, or an encouraging compliment? Are you careful not to say something, unless it will edify; build up the body of Christ? Will you, like Philemon, be an encourager among the church? May that be our prayer and goal today!
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