“For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.”
The world honors men for many reasons. We have a Hall of Fame for most sporting endeavors. Men’s lives are immortalized for throwing a ball, riding a wave, or taking a punch. What an amazing thing it must be for a living legend to see a bronze statue of himself outside a stadium, or a street in his home town, named after him. Here, in our text, we find God is immortalizing the actions of a man named Philemon. In it we learn something very important about the economy of God.
“. . . the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.”
While we do not know a lot about this man, we do know his life was a source of encouragement for others. There are many things in life that can tear us down, wear us out, or discourage us from continuing to follow and serve Christ. However, there are also many things that can build us up and keep us going. What a blessing it is, when we find a man like Philemon who will refresh our hearts.
We are not told exactly how he did that, but a story from the life of David may shed a little light on how we can refresh the hearts of one another. The Bible tells us, David became discouraged. After being called by God and used by God, as a general and a worship leader, David was forced to flee like a fugitive, from the increasing threats of King Saul. He left his wife, home, friends and ministry. He was forced to hide away in one of the many caves in the Judean wilderness. At times, the difficulties of his life took their toll on David, and he became discouraged. On one such occasion, we are told he received a visit from his friend, Jonathan, who “strengthened his hands in God.” (1 Samuel 23:16) A phrase that is synonymous with the “the hearts of the saints are refreshed by you”
The question is, how did Jonathan refresh David’s heart or strengthen his hands? The story, told in 1 Samuel, explains that Jonathan simply reminded David of the promises found in the Word of God. Saddened, overwhelmed, defeated and afraid, David heard the great and precious promises of the Scripture and was suddenly strengthened from within. He was not alone in this experience. When Daniel was weakened by seeing the direction the world was taking, moving farther and farther from God, we are told, he heard God speak and was strengthened and rose to his feet to continue the task to which he was called.
If you find yourself weary, you may need a nap, a Sabbath, or a vacation, but you also need to sit down with the promises of God and allow him to refresh your heart. If you see someone else who is worn out, instead of rehearsing with them how unfair or difficult things may be, remind them of the promises of God, and watch as their hands are strengthened in the Lord.