I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints,that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. – Philemon 4-6
The brief letter of Paul to Philemon is an often overlooked passage of Scripture. In all my years of attending church and being in Christian media, I doubt I have heard a message from Philemon more than a handful of times. Unfortunately, its brevity may be associated with its importance to modern believers. Yet, I have found this epistle written from a prison in Rome, to an individual in a church hundreds of miles away, to be one which speaks to us about the practical application of our faith.
The church of Colossae met in the home of Philemon (vs 2) as it seems Philemon and his wife Apphia opened up their place for the saints to gather there to worship. They must have been wonderful hosts as in verse 7, Paul tells them “the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you.”
Paul speaks of the “effective” faith on the part of Philemon, yet there is no indication Philemon was the leader. He and his wife served as the hosts of the church. They were faithful in doing the role God had for them. They were effective or productive in serving Him.
Too often people think it is only the person who have the title of “pastor” are serving God. Pastors or ministers of a church are put on a pedestal and thought of as being the only ones capable of serving. They are the only people who are devoted to Jesus in full-time ministry. Yet, Paul is indicating in this passage how Philemon (and his wife) are serving Jesus, by their service to others. They are so diligent at it, Paul describes their efforts as being “effective” faith.
The term used here, most often translated as “effective” means productive or energetic. There is considerable activity being generated and it is being put to good use. Philemon isn’t just making noise or wasting time, but he is serving God because “the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you.” His faith is effective.
The challenge to me – and I think to all of us – let’s make sure our service to God is like Philemon’s. make sure we are effective or productive. We don’t all have to host a church in our home, but we all have some part to play. All of us have something to do. We all are to be effective, productive, full of positive activity as we serve Him and others.
What has He called you to do? Where is your faith effective?