Faith In Action
Chan Gin Kai
I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all His holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. 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. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people. (Philemon 4-7)
Pray Often For Others
Paul always thanked God as he thought of Philemon in his prayers. He remembered and prayed for Philemon often; and Philemon wasn’t the only one he prayed for frequently.
Do you pray a lot for others? I’ve got to admit that a lot of my prayers, and a huge portion of each prayer are for myself – confessing my sins, asking for forgiveness, asking to draw closer to God, putting requests before God. I do pray for others of course, but they make up only a small part of each prayer.
Our conversations with God would of course require us to bare our hearts to Him. So it is natural that our prayers would be about us, and our relationship with Him. But selfishness can play a part in our self-focus too. I’ve got to admit selfishness plays a part in mine. How about you?
What Good News Would People Share About You?
Paul was thankful for the great things he heard about Philemon. He heard about Philemon’s love “for all His holy people” and also about “his faith in the Lord Jesus”.
We seek the approval of God, not men. But how people feel about us is often a helpful indicator of where we stand spiritually. Would people make more prayer requests on your behalf or thank God for you? What good news (or perhaps bad ones) would they share about you? Do you cause concern, or fill others up with joy?
It is certainly not wrong to ask for prayers, and we should do that often. And on occasions we require help, I am sure our family in Christ would be glad to step up. But as a whole, do we ask more than we give? Are we a burden or a joy?
Philemon’s Love For People
I desire to have the kind of loving heart that Philemon had. Paul elaborated how Philemon’s love gave him “great joy and encouragement” and also “refreshed the hearts” of other Christians. Love builds people up; it encourages, inspires and refreshes others.
It’ll be great to be called ‘committed’, or ‘wise’, or ‘serving’, or ‘sacrificial’, or ‘persevering’ because these are all great qualities too. But ‘love’ far outweighs all of these qualities. Loving God and loving people are the two most important commandments, and everything else hangs around these two. I desire to grow in my love for God’s people.
Philemon’s Faith In Jesus
Paul also praised Philemon’s “faith in the Lord Jesus”. Faith in Jesus is more than just believing in his existence. It is our confidence in Jesus and in God, and having absolute trust in his words. It is easy to think we have faith in God. But when times of testing come, what do our hearts reveal?
My faith had wavered during the toughest times, and I’ve doubted God’s love when my prayers go unanswered. I need to learn to trust in Jesus during good times and bad.
Deepening Our Understanding Through Action
Paul prayed that Philemon’s “partnership with us in the faith” (scholars say it could have been in evangelism or helping the poor or both) “may be effective in deepening” Philemon’s “understanding of every good thing we share”. Indeed, the best way to understand the blessings of God is to put our faith into action. The more we tell people about the salvation we’ve received through God’s grace, the more we will appreciate it. The more we teach people the Bible, the deeper we will understand it. The more we serve the poor, the more grateful we'll become for what we have.
We understand God on a deeper level when we put our faith into action. We can spend a lot of time reading and discussing the truths of the Bible (and indeed we must), but these only bring our understanding to a certain level. Our faith in action will bring us to the next.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".