…because I hear about your love and faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints. Philemon 5 (EHV).
Word gets around. If you let it, a single action can define you for years, maybe even a lifetime. That happens because people gossip, people talk, word gets around. If you think about it, all social media, from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to even Pinterest, is subtle gossip. Social media is the latest way to spread the word, usually about ourselves (or things we favor). No, this isn’t “Pick on Social Media Day.” We’ll save that for another time.
No, this is an acknowledgement that people talk. And sometimes what we talk about is constructive, or good, or helpful. It isn’t much of a bet to bet that, when you or I die, we’ll have wanted those around us to speak well of us. “She was such a great lady.” “He was a good man who loved the Lord.” “I’ll miss him/her a lot because I loved him/her.” You get the picture. Face it: people are going to talk whether we’re here or not, whether we want them to or not.
Re-read today’s verse and you see that Paul acknowledged this about Philemon. Word had spread from Colosse (his home) that Philemon was a strong follower of Jesus. He showed great love, caring, and compassion; he exhibited those Galatians 5 fruits of the Spirit. He demonstrated faith, something that can happen only if Jesus first inspires it into us; apart from Him, we can have no faith. That faith, those behaviors, this caring for Christ (and His reputation) and for those He loves speaks for itself. It makes itself known. Years ago, I spoke with a friend during an airplane ride and he told me, “when God blesses you, you have to share it. He blesses us with so much that we can’t hold on to it. We have to pass it around.”
Like my friend, Philemon shared that love of Jesus with his peers, his fellow followers of Jesus in Asia Minor. They cared for each other and cared for strangers. They got to ‘be’ Jesus to others when they let Jesus work through them. Because of that, word got around. It traveled from Asia through believers and messengers, through word of mouth, through letters. It reached an imprisoned apostle, who then shared it in a new way, requesting that this Philemon then share it again with a man who had once wronged him.
Putting the love of Jesus to work defined Philemon. And Paul. And my friend on the plane. And maybe us. Letting the love of God go to work in us is the thing that can define us for His good forever, starting now. It’s something worth talking about. Wouldn’t that be better than simply idle gossip?
For further reading: John 15:5, Galatians 5:22-23, Philemon 6
My Lord, work through me today. Let others see You in what I say and do.