"Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints" (Philemon 5).
Here Paul is writing to a beloved Christian brother, Philemon. It is a message that bonds their hearts and quickly seals the oneness they know and feel in their Lord. But this written letter is just a manifestation of a persistent prayer relationship that has been going on continuously for some time--"I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers" (v.4). How many are in our own prayers continually, for whom we are thanking God for bringing into our lives?
For many, sweet are the times when we call to memory the fragrance of past fellowship, and write those notes of endearment that keep the bond of the past alive. Yet the messages often become more historical in content about family and recreation, and less about the "victories in Jesus."
What has happened in us that we feel ill at ease writing about our faith, that it may become effectual (v.6)? Is it that "every good thing which is in [us] in Christ Jesus" (v.6) has become dull and ineffectual? Are we dry and empty and without recent victories to keep our faith alive? Are our circumstances routine and humdrum so that even reading God's Word is a chore, or even worse, a bore? Is our walk with God a living, vibrant one, or a past memory?
Just when we reach the bottom, we receive that love letter that rejuvenates our great joy and consoles our love by the sender's love. And as that letter, or e-mail, or card, or call comes our way, "the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother" (v.7).
More to the point, though, is, what will the message say? Will it contain mere platitudes, or truly lift up our spirit because it brings a testimony of radiance--the "love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus"? KBC