Saturday, June 27, 2009
Refresh my heart in Christ
"Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ." Philemon 1:20
Refresh my heart is a term that was used in this time period to describe love and compassion that was (and is) a regenerative aspect to living. Onesimus was a non-believing slave that had run away from his Christian master. One of the areas of life that believers today may not realize or remember, believers in Christ were at one time slave owners. Today, we know that no person should own another. Yet, in this culture, it was a fact of life. Cultural training has always been at odds with our walk with Christ; culturally entrenched sin will always limit our walk with God unless we are able to rise above it.
Paul was talking to a fellow believer who owned people, and Paul was asking for mercy for Onesimus! He did not tell Philemon to set this now fellow believer free (Onesimus must have accepted Christ when he was with Paul, verse 10 and 11), but to treat him with compassion and love. This alone was counter-culture to their times! The Roman Empire was, of course, the dominant culture of the time; yet, Paul was asking Philemon to look at his responsibility to Christ to be the foundation Philemon made his decisions on.
The value of being a believer will not make you error-free; rather, it is the foundation that will be the benchmark for your walk with Christ. We do not run away from our past; through Christ, we are transformed and renewed ... we rise above our past sins and iniquities. We perform our duties out of our love for Christ, therefore we benefit each other, and we refresh our hearts in Christ's sacrifice and resurrection. This is the benefit that Paul must have been talking about; Philemon's growth in love and trust in Christ will bring the benefit, both to Paul and to Philemon (as well as Onesimus)! To live with that response will refresh our hearts in Christ!
Read 1 Corinthians 7:19-21, 16:18; and Philemon 1:7 for more illumination