7 For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.
These words of the apostle Paul are a testimonial to the far-reaching effects of Christian charity exhibited by Philemon, a rich Christian man who lived in Colossae. Philemon’s love for Christ was demonstrated in his expressions of love towards fellow Christians. He was joyful and ready to communicate to fellow Christians who were in need.
Paul mentioned that because of Philemon’s deeds, “the bowels of the saints are refreshed”. The word “bowels” here denotes deep-seated affections. The saints who were ministered to by Philemon were much encouraged in their hearts, for he had “refreshed” them. The Greek word for “refreshed” suggests that he made provisions for the saints’ physical and spiritual rest from toils of life and work. The kindness he had shown to Christians had done much to make them happy. It appears that he was helpful not only to Christians who lived in his place, but even to the travelling preachers and brethren who passed through his city.
Acts of kindness and love, no matter how small they may be, can have enormous impact on the lives of people. Charity shown towards one needy individual can also become a help to many others who are associated with him. The fragrance of Christian love will reach far beyond one’s area of life and ministry. Philemon little dreamed that his help and support to some suffering brethren in Colossae would find their way across the sea and would cause the apostle Paul and his fellow labourers in the Roman prison to rejoice greatly.
Like Philemon, let us delight ourselves in the duty of Christian hospitality and charity. To seek the well-being of fellow Christians around us would result in the strengthening of the Lord’s work everywhere. When we strengthen the faithful, in times of their needs and difficulties, with the good things we possess, we cheer their hearts and minds to press on in their service for the Lord. So, may we give ourselves to comfort the godly according to the ability that God has given us.
Moreover, Paul’s commendation of Philemon shows how important it is to appreciate and encourage those who attend to the needs of others. When we see God’s grace working through other Christians, let us rejoice and give thanks to God on their behalf.