Philemon 1:6 I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.
I’ve liked this particular statement for a long time. There is naturally some leeway in translation, as is often the case, but any way you translate it, it gives insight on the relationship between what we believe and what we do. The Japanese renders this as, “May the fellowship of your faith be living and active by your knowing all the good things that are done among us because of Christ.” That sounds rather different from the NIV here (which I happen to like very much) but the point remains that faith and knowledge and human interaction and good things in Christ are all intertwined. It is a fact of human psychology that men are pretty good at compartmentalizing life. Women, on the other hand, are more inclined to see everything as a single entity. Either approach can have advantages at times, but also disadvantages. Men can be better at keeping going even when one particular part of their life is less than optimal, and women can be better at recognizing interconnections. Looking at it negatively, men are better at hypocrisy! In the specific area of our faith, a man might understand that they can communicate Christ even though they aren’t a perfect Christian, but a woman might understand that the most effective evangelism is the overflow of our own joy in the Lord. Both things are true! Most “systems of evangelism” are cooked up by men, but Peter says that a woman can win her husband to Christ without saying a word! (1 Peter 3:1-2) The important thing to remember is that the more we genuinely know of Christ, the more we will want to share that knowledge with others, and in the process, share Christ Himself. And in the process of sharing, we discover more and more of Christ, as the NIV expresses it. I realized many years ago that one of the best ways to grow in faith is to share the faith you have. That might seem counter-intuitive, but I’ve seen it happen again and again. Actually, from a secular standpoint, it has long been recognized that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it. That just happens to be true with spiritual things as well.
This is extremely relevant to what I hope will happen in today’s service and business meeting. I want the believers to understand that we exist for the purpose of bringing others into eternal life by grace through faith, and this verse is intimately connected with that. I need to express God’s truth clearly through the message, and then as we have the time of “brainstorming” in the business meeting about our plans for this fiscal year, I want the believers to have revelations of God’s will for them as they put into words what they already know. When we speak truth, we are speaking it to ourselves as well as to those around us. That’s a major reason faith declarations can be very effective in growing and strengthening us. I need to be completely open to whatever God wants to do today, and keep myself fully available to Him.
Father, thank You for this powerful Word. Help me follow through! May Your will be done in every detail, building up the Body of Christ for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!