Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say.Philemon 1:21(NASB)
This little communication, from Paul, is a personal plea from the apostle to a wealthy gentile, slave-owner, who lived in the city of Colossae. He was writing to Philemon, from his first prison incarceration, in Rome.. in connection with a bond-servant called Onesimus, who had recently trusted Christ for his salvation.
Before his conversion, this slave had run away from his Christian master, Philemon, and the epistle, which was carried to Colossae by a fellow-labourer in the gospel, called Tychicus, was a simple plea from the heart of Paul to Philemon, courteously requesting that this runaway be reinstated, and treated kindly.
Paul's love for Philemon and his high regard for his fellow-believer, is reflected in his warm, introductory remarks, where he praises God for Philemon's love, faith and integrity - where the apostle reminded him that he often made mention of him in his prayers.
Paul made his heart-felt, yet forceful request, to this brother in Christ, extremely courteously. He asked if this runaway slave might be restored to his former position. He referred to Onesimus fondly as a son in the faith, and called him a servant and beloved brother, who had become very special to Paul. Although Philemon's slave, Paul asked that on his return, Onesimus would be treated, by Philemon, with the love and respect that one brothers-in-Christ should always have for another.
It is obviously from the tone of his letter, that Paul did not expect his request to be refused, but he also wanted to ensure Philemon was obedient to the high principles and godly practices that are expected of all, who are saved by grace through faith in Christ, and are walking in spirit and truth, and so we read - Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say.
One of the identifying characteristics of the early Church was the deep love that each Christian had for their fellow believers. Both the gospels and the epistles give multiple examples of the call to love one another, as Christ loved us, and to think more highly of our brothers and sisters in Christ, that we do of ourselves - no matter what their station in life.
This short, but compassionate epistle, is a living example of the attitude and behaviour that one brother in Christ should have for another - as so clearly laid out in Scripture. Just as Paul expected Philemon to do over and above all that he had asked of him, in his letter.. so it should be the desire of each of us to apply all the godly principles and practices, that are so clearly laid out in the Bible.
May we demonstrate to others the same love and faith that Paul identified in the letter to Philemon, and obediently fulfil all the principles and practices of Christian love - as instructed in the Word of God, with a joyful heart - so that Christ may be glorified, in all we do.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the beautiful illustration of practical, Christian love for one another, that is written in the book of Philemon. I pray that I may incorporate the same practical love and living faith towards God and my fellow Christians, that was found in Philemon. May my life become a living example of gracious love - that reflects the deep love of Christ for me - this I ask in Jesus name, AMEN.