I read Philemon today. What a short and awesome little book on brotherhood. Christ, our brother, defines our relationships.
In the letter you see:
1. Paul’s brotherhood with Philemon.
2. Paul’s brotherhood with Philemon’s former slave Onesimus.
3. Paul’s expectation for Philemon to receive Onesimus as a brother.
I knew that much about the letter to Philemon before reading it today, but I had always focused on Paul’s expectation that Philemon receive Onesimus back again. I had never really looked at what Paul said about his relationship to Philemon.
“I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (Philemon 1:7)
Joy and comfort from the love of a brother.
A little bit later he writes, “Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.”
As brothers and sisters (see verse 2) in Christ we can bring joy and comfort to one another.
Perhaps this aspect of the Paul’s letter sticks out to me because this past week I received some good encouragement from a brother in Christ. I had been down and struggling about a number of things, but we talked and my heart was refreshed.
I do not think that is finding joy and peace from someone other than Christ. No, the joy and comfort I experienced from that conversation could only happen as a result of what Christ has already done in our lives. His redemption in our hearts has made it possible for His Spirit to work within us. The Spirit is making us more like Christ. And Christ is the brother of all brothers.
Christ changes everything.