The short letter of Paul to Philemon has some valuable lessons for us about spiritual relationships one with another. Paul is writing as “a prisoner of Christ Jesus” (verse 1) and Timothy is with him – and other visitors support him, “Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke” (verse 24). He tells Philemon, “I remember you in my prayers” (verse 4).
What filled Paul’s hours and days in his imprisonment? His mind was occupied with thoughts about the believers he knew and the news he hears about them. We remember the dramatic night when he and Silas sang hymns while in prison, and we surely imagine him singing hymns with “Epaphras my fellow prisoner” (verse 23).
How do we compare, we who are free to do as we please – does how we spend our time help or hinder our spiritual life? I have to admit that, unless I am at some spiritual gathering, the events of my daily life rarely helps me spiritually; I must ask do they hinder, do they undermine?
Paul is pleased with Philemon “because I hear of your love and the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints (fellow believers), and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective …” (verses 5,6).
Would others hear the same sort of thing about us? If not, what would they hear? Would it have any effect on them in the sense of a good (or bad) example we set them? Paul is able to say 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” (verse 7).
Do we shed abroad a spirit that refreshes the hearts of other believers – so that we are a light that shines in spiritual darkness? The effect of that light should be so good that even some unbelievers will notice. Let us do this. It may be that we do it unconsciously, only realizing the effect we have had as we look back on events. And in communicating with fellow believers – and those who do not yet believe – we can state, “I remember you in my prayers”.