Updated: May 11, 2021
I was reading the book of Philemon recently; I recommend it as the whole book is only 25 verses so you can get a quick sense of achievement when you have finished!! In the letter, Paul is writing from prison to Philemon who is a believer in Colosse. Paul is asking him to receive back his runaway slave, Onesimus, as a brother in Christ rather than as Roman law dictates by ordering his execution.
As I was reading the letter verse 7 stood out. ‘Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.' That is a wonderful thing to be able to say of someone isn’t it? Of course, Paul is wanting to get Philemon onside as he will be making the bold request of him to not only forgive Onesimus but to welcome him as a brother but there is a sincerity in Paul’s writing. Paul has heard of Philemon’s heart and love for the saints, the fellow believers and that has brought him great joy.
As I reflected on this verse I was thinking about two questions and I invite you to do the same. Who is the person or people who do this for you? Who has shown love in a way that has brought you joy and encouragement? Take time to ponder this, thank God for them and encourage them too by thanking them directly.
The second question was, am I actively choosing to be a person who is trying to refresh the hearts of the Lord’s people? As we come to a year now of this pandemic, a year of us not being able to meet together, socialise and worship together at the BSB and in homes, it is easy to be worn down and that is absolutely understandable but nevertheless what do I choose? What can I be doing to be God’s instrument to refresh the hearts of others? There are many ways we can do this through acts of kindness, gifts phone calls…. Ultimately though it comes down to connecting with people, being in relationship with one another, I don’t think it is possible to do it without that.
Every Sunday, as you know we have Zoom Coffee Time. Some people turn up because they want to connect with others, to see some different faces from the week. Then I am sure there are others who turn up, who if they are honest could happily miss it but they do so because it isn’t about them but about being community, sharing life and relationship because it is an opportunity to encourage and refresh the hearts of the Lord’s people. To these people I am really grateful and want to say thank you.
That is just one example, my challenge to us all is to think of something tangible we can do this week to encourage and bring refreshment to another person.