Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Week Fifteen - More Than Expected

    Verse six of Philemon is one of those verses where my mind stops and begins to ponder.  It reads, “that the communication of your faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.”  I start to consider, “What makes my faith become effective? Do I communicate my faith well?  Do others look at my life and see good things?  Do they see Christ?  Do they acknowledge my Christianity?”
       Usually, I go on to read the rest of Philemon and move on, but the last time I started looking deeper into the story to see if the answers to my questions could be found inside the book.  And, of course, because the Bible is its own best commentator, It did. I saw something that I enjoyed meditating on and wanted to share with you.
        Paul makes a strong appeal both to Philemon and Onesimus to demonstrate their reconciliation.  Onesimus is to show his new-found faith by obedience in returning to make things right with his master, and Philemon, the master, is to exhibit his mature faith by forgiveness and restoration toward the runaway slave.
       But it isn’t enough for Onesimus to return and for Philemon to take him in, they must do more.  As Paul says in verse 21, “having confidence in thy obedience…knowing that thou wilt do more than I say.”   
       Maybe Philemon needs to put Onesimus into a better home or a better position.  Maybe Onesimus needs to become a better worker.  Whatever Paul is hinting at, we know he meant a simple “sorry” and “I forgive you” were not enough. That would fail to communicate the whole picture.  They needed to show repentance and forgiveness through visible actions as well.  Actions that would communicate their faith to those around them.  Actions that would cause others to take notice and lift up Christ.   They needed to do more than was expected.
      We are to be salt and light doing good works that can be seen.  And, we need to do more than is expected.  How will people be able to acknowledge the working of God in our lives unless they see something visual, something different from the norm?  That is how we communicate real faith. 
      What does that mean for me?  It means going the extra mile.  It means laying self aside and looking to the needs of others—putting them first.  That makes my faith more effective.  Maybe I need to look for opportunities to do good works?  Maybe I need to not just talk about being a Christian but act like a Christian in ways that go beyond what people expect. Since the Lord intends us to be going about doing good, He will open the opportunities.  We must be alert and obedient.
       Do I communicate my faith well? Of course, I’d like to say I do, but sometimes, like you, I am not sure at all.  Do I always have an answer ready for every man that asks about my faith?  Does my loving attitude show I am a Christian?  Do I take the witnessing opportunities as they come? Do people look at my life and see Christ?  Or, is He obscured by worldliness, anger, poor decision, or fear?  Do others see good works coming from me?   Works that are more than expected? Do they acknowledge my Christianity? Oh, how I hope they do.  That is the challenge my study placed before me.
     What about you? Can you say that the communication of your faith is effective and acknowledges every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus?  Something to meditate, isn’t it?


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