Paul is expecting Philemon to do something that is not normally done in their culture. In those times an owner wouldn’t usually take back a slave that had run away.
Chances are that a slave that had run away once would do it again. Chances are that a slave that had stolen would take stuff again, so the owners didn’t want to make the effort to give them another chance. They would rather get a new one.
Paul knew it would be difficult for Philemon to do it, but he believed that Philemon could do it.
Often, we are expected to do things that don’t sit well in our comfort zone. Like forgiving someone who has hurt or offended us. Maybe we have to give up something that we enjoy. Maybe we have to give away something that we have worked a long time for.
It’s also not easy, but very often God expects us to walk that extra mile. Sometimes we have to do things that are hard, and yes, sometimes we have to give a piece of ourselves.
20 Do me this big favor, friend. You’ll be doing it for Christ, but it will also do my heart good.
Many things that are not easy to do are expected of us who are children of God. But God will help us to do the supernatural. Through his Spirit He will give us the strength to pick up that burden that looks so heavy.
And the net effect? Joy! People everywhere will be glad and go through life easier because we were faithful and did what was expected of us. And even more: God’s Name will be glorified.
When Christians do something to bring relief to others, it doesn’t matter how small, God’s Name is glorified. Then we’re like a showcase for God and people will be amazed by God who can do so much through a bunch of ordinary people. ’Then people will say: “There has to be a God!”
May you and I live like that today. May we do the work that has been assigned to us, even if it takes us out of our comfort zone. May we take hands with the Holy Spirit who will give us the strength to make a difference. May God’s Name be glorified through it. May we bring loads of joy to the world by doing it.
Where is joy needed?
What do you have to do?
How do you have to go and do it?
Lord, I’m used to doing what is convenient and comfortable for me. Please help me to be obedient to You, even when it is difficult and I have to sacrifice something. Please help me not to honour myself, but to glorify You in everything I do. In Jesus’ Name, amen.