Saints who refresh

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For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother. Philemon 7

There is a line in an old western movie where the protagonist says to the villain, "When you talk, I just get tired all over." I must confess, I've thought about that line a lot. There are people like that, you know. When you try to engage them and interact with them, you always come away feeling like you've been sucker-punched, or at the very best, just feeling tired all over.

We should not want to be like that. Instead, we should want to be like Philemon whom Paul describes as the kind of person who didn't send people away from his company feeling spiritually tired and emotionally exhausted but as one from whom people went away feeling refreshed. Don't you want to be like that? Don't you want to be the kind of person who strengthens, encourages, blesses, and enlivens others?

Just a note on the word bowels: this is a literal translation, which may seem awkward in our ears, but to the first-century inhabitant of the Greco-Roman world, it referred to the seat of the emotions. This is why versions like the ESV translates the word as "heart." Paul is saying that Philemon was the kind the guy who filled people's emotional tanks instead of draining them.

What made him this kind of person? Paul doesn't point to anything unique in his personality but rather to graces common to every follower of Jesus: faith and love (see verses 5-7). Note how he begins this verse: the joy and consolation that folks experienced from their interaction with this brother was "in thy love." It is when we exhibit the fruits of love in our lives (see 1 Cor. 13) that we will be the kind of person who refreshes the souls and hearts of others.

In other words, we have no excuse to not be this kind of person, for if you have been born again, God has implanted this love in your heart. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him" (1 John 5:1). Brothers and sisters, let's not seek our own interests but the interests of others. Let us love one another, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Let's be the kind of person who refreshes others instead of draining others.

By: Jeremiah Bass