God’s Word is a daily reminder of the standard for living God has set for us. We aren’t meant to be bogged down in temporal pursuits. Kyle York points out in today’s L3 reading from Philemon that we were made to do greater things for Christ’s sake.
"I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints; and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake. For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother." Philemon 1:4-7
The Apostle Paul is writing here to a fellow Christian named Philemon, who had come to faith under Paul’s ministry. Paul begins his short letter with a note of thanksgiving for Philemon’s great life of faith, which is evidenced in his love for Christ and for fellow believers. Paul prays for Philemon to be strengthened all the more in his faith and ministry, and affirms him as a blessing and a comfort to the church. We don’t know much more about Philemon apart from what we see in in this short letter, but this testimony of his faith and love stands as one of the more profound examples of Christian love given in all the bible.
Paul gives Philemon a glowing affirmation that has nothing to do with his wealth, status, education, or worldly achievements. Rather, the testimony is centered on this man’s love, faith, comfort, and joyful refreshment of others. Would this be my testimony if it were given by others who know me? In other words, am I known as a person of great faith, love and unselfish generosity? Too often, I get swept up in the endless cycle of lesser pursuits, and forget that God’s measure of my success looks far more like Philemon than the surrounding culture. If I want my life to count for God’s sake, then I must change my standard of success to look like what Paul affirms in these verses.
The good news is, the opportunities to love, serve and give are always right around me. If I will simply pray for God to open doors of opportunity, and given me an awareness to see them, then I will never lack for opportunity to live this out. In my case, it is simply a daily decision to value God’s success over the world’s, and prayer that He will grant me a heart like Jesus. In this way, I can begin to have a life testimony that brings joy, comfort and refreshment to others.
Father, I pray that the fellowship of my faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in me for Christ’s sake. In the way I love you and serve others, let my life be a shining example of Jesus in this world. Lord, where I am selfishly ambitious, please show me a different measure of success that pleases you and brings refreshment to those around me. Amen.