I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints– Philemon 4-5

Where does faith in Jesus Christ come from? How does one come to truly love Jesus Christ and Christians?

As Paul writes with uncommon delicacy and diplomacy to his Christian brother Philemon, he is still careful to place the credit where it is due — entirely with God. It is God who is to be thanked, Paul clearly implies, even for Philemon’s love and faith in Christ.

While Paul does describe the love and faith as being Philemon’s own (“thy”), he is giving God the thanks for it (as he does in every other epistle). God is the author and finisher of true, Christ-centered faith. God is the spring from which all genuine love for Jesus and his people comes.

Paul’s careful and purposeful wording should affect us in two ways: first, it should remind us to give thanks for any Christian faith or love that we see around us, and especially that we see in our friends and loved ones. Without God, we could not enjoy that greatest and sweetest of bonds with them (nor they with us!). 

Second, we must remember, then, to whom we should pray, and why, for love and faith. If God is the source of all true love and faith, then God is of course the one to whom we must go in order to pray for it.

When was the last time you thanked God for the grace of love and the mercy of faith in Jesus Christ? When did you last pray to him for more?