1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— 2 also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home: 3 Grace and peace to you[a] from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. 6 I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. 7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
This is a personal letter from Paul to his friend Philemon, who hosts a home church in Colossi. He writes because Onesimus, the escaped slave of Philemon has been with him in prison. He says that Onesimus is like a son to him and a servant of The Lord. He wants to return him to Philemon’s household, not just as a slave but also as a brother in Christ. Essentially this letter is full of love and tact in paving the way for reconciliation between slave and master.
Philemon is commended for his kindness, faith and love for the people of God. Because of this Paul is confident to implore him to be generous.
This is a pattern which works in our relationships too. Keeping in contact, especially with our Christian friends we don’t see so often. Encouraging them by pointing out their strengths and the good things you have heard about them. I may be old fashioned but there is something very special about receiving a personal snail mail letter. You can open it, hold it, read it slowly and keep it in a special place, where you can re-read it when you need encouragement. (I know- you can save email too!)
If someone sent me a letter which started like this, I would be open to listen to the request which followed.
Dear Lord, I need your help to get around to using my time and love and words to bless and nurture my brothers and sisters. Thank you Father for the ‘love letters’ from you that we can re-read each day. Amen.
Written by Dimity Milne