Reading: Communicate how blessed this person is
STEP ONE: Relationship - Build it
Philemon 6 (ERV) I pray that the faith you share will make you understand every blessing we have in Christ.
6. Communicate how blessed this person is.
Paul is building the relationship he has with Philemon so that, in the end, both of them will be able todeal with the complicated, potentiality divisive issue of Onesimus.
So why verse 6? How does this verse build the relationship?
Let me ask you a few questions that mighthelp you think about this. What happens when you deal with people who think they are blessed? Are they easier to deal with or harder? Are they more likely to be patient and listen to your side of some issue or less likely? Are they more inclined to compromise to keep the peace or more liable to dig their heels in against you?
How about the other way. How easy is it to deal with people who, instead of feeling blessed, feel that life has treated them unfairly and that they deserve much better than they are getting?
Yeah, you know the answers to these questions.
So, how do you get someone to stop feeling sorry for themselves, to stop obsessing on what they lack or don't have, and to stop keeping track of who owes them? Conversely, how do you get someone to recognize what they have and ultimately how blessed they are?
How does Paul do it? Paul starts out in verse 6 with the words, "I pray...” He puts what he is going to say in the context of prayer. Why would he do this?
Prayer is not just talking and listening to God. It is a way in which we become super cognizant of His presence. God is, of course, always there, but we are not always aware of His presence. Prayer is a way that we remind ourselves and those around us that God is in on what we are doing.
"I pray...” puts God in the room. With God in the room, Philemon is more likely to think about what he has, not what he doesn't have. With God in the room, Philemon is more likely to be less accusatory and more introspective of his own faults.
Try praying with someone and see if that act of prayer doesn't make you more humble, more gracious in terms of your attitude towards the other person.
In a complicated relationship with another person, always invite God into the room.
What does Paul pray? That Philemon would share his faith.
Of course, since there is a church in Philemon's home, Philemon has already done this. So maybe Paul is trying to get Philemon to think about or remember some occasions where he has shared his faith.
So what would be the point of that? Think about a time you shared your faith with someone. Maybe you invited a non-church going friend to church and they came. Or maybe, after so many years of discipling your children, one of them came up to you and said that they wanted to confess their faith in Jesus publicly. Or maybe you went on a mission trip and you helped someone get a new house. How did sharing your faith make you feel?
My guess is you felt blessed. That is what one feels when one does something positive for someone else. Blessed. And I think one feels blessed for two reasons:
One, if you are blessing someone, it means that someone is most likely worse off than you. And if they are worse off than you, then when you are helping them, you begin to realize that you could have it much worse than you do. Their need is in stark contrast to your ability to help. What a blessing to be able to help!
Second, the act of helping someone gives the helper a positive view of themselves. "I am a leader. I am somebody. I make a difference. I am an important contribution to the world. I help make good things happen in the Kingdom of God.”
Can you see why Paul would want Philemon to think of himself in this way? Imagine if you actively tried to get the people close to you to think of themselves as important contributors to the Kingdom of God?
One final thought: There is an old saying in the secular world: "You don't know what you have till it is gone.”
In the Christian world, we might say it this way: "You don't know how you have been blessed until you share the blessing with others.”
Why is it difficult to deal with a relationship issue when you are feeling abused, taken advantage of, or overlooked?
Why does helping someone make you feel good?
Is it possible to say, after reading Philemon 1:6, that a person doesn't understand his or her faith until that faith is shared with someone else?
When did you experience the truth of question 3?
What are some common ways that a person can share their faith?
Who in your world needs a blessing? How can you be that blessing?