Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Partners - Philemon 17-25

"If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me. But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account; I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well). Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say. At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you. Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." (Philemon 17-25)
The Christian life is not a life that is to be lived in isolation, but one that is to be shared together as we live our lives out in community. We should see each other, not as being separate from us, but as being partners with us; sharing inf a common life, a common grace, a common purpose, and a common hope. See how Paul refers to Philemon as his partner as well as making mention of his fellow prisoners and fellow workers. They were all partners together in this new life they had found in Jesus. This sense of being partners is more than a mere mental note or a tactical arrangement, such as a roster on a baseball team or an employee list at some company. The term for "regard" means to hold; to hold one in our heart and esteem as being partners with us; members with us in our life and walk with Christ. Paul put it this way, "so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." (Romans 12:5) Not only are we members of the body, but we are also members one with another. There can be no association with the Body without an association with each other.

Paul found benefit in his partnership with Philemon, but what was that benefit? It was knowing that he was not alone in the Body and that he did not have to carry every burden of the Body. He could trust on the goodness of his fellow members to do their part, thus freeing him to do his part. Specifically, he could trust Onesimus, to Philemon without worry or care, knowing that Philemon would do what was right. It is a great temptation for those who care to what to manage and control everything to ensure that people are properly treated and cared for. However, the Body is too big and life is too short. We must focus on what God has called us to do and trust others will do the same. We must trust in our partnerships in Christ; to release to them what they alone can do that we may attend to what we alone can do. Trusting others may be hard, but there is refreshing that comes to our souls when we realize that we don't have to do everything; when we realize that we are not alone.

David Robison

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