Philemon is a tiny little book; blink on your way to Hebrews or James and you’ll miss it. But it’s in the reading plan this week, and as I made my way through the 29 verses, this little gem caught my eye:
I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. (v. 6)
That seemed backwards, somehow. Had I been writing the letter to Philemon and his church, I might have said, “I pray that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ, so that you may be active in sharing your faith.” To me, the more you experience God’s blessings and know his character (the “every good thing” Paul writes about), the more you will want to tell people about Him.
But, reading Paul’s words, I guess it goes both ways. When we know the goodness of God, we do want to tell other people. And yet the reverse is also true: The more we share our faith – actively, with words and deeds – the more we understand what it is that we are expressing. Maybe it’s like when you tell your friends that you need to “process” something with them so that you can figure out what it really means, or when you step out in faith and do something that you think God wants you to do and then, when you see what happens, you have a new awareness of some facet of His character.
In any case, verse 6 is a terrific little prayer that we can appropriate today for ourselves, for our kids, or for someone we love:Heavenly Father, May _____ be active in sharing his/her faith, so that _____ will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. (Philemon 6) Amen.