We have been looking at the book of Philemon in the New Testament and doing a focus and amplify study of it. We identified the focus as being: Forgiveness is a test and testimony of Christian love and faith.
After the introductory comments in verses 1-3, which indicate this letter and its message is a family affair needing God’s grace and peace, Paul presents his confining approach in verses 4-7.
He begins by pointing out how thankful he is for the faith and love Philemon is known for. This becomes a basis for presenting his expectations when he responds to the specific issue at hand. Reflecting on this positive approach I realized I often focus on the negative elements first and that almost always casts a shadow over a project or person before anything is even initiated.
Having affirmed Philemon’s faith and love Paul prays that he might exercise his faith even more. In other words, he wanted him to apply his faith to this project and the person involved. This would stretch his faith and love.
Then to make his point even more workable he affirms the positive impact Philemon’s love has already had. He expected Philemon to maintain his quality commitment to live by faith and love. What he had been and had done in the past Paul was calling upon him to do now, and even more. He didn’t leave much wiggle room for Philemon.
Likewise, God expects us to keep living up to what we have been and done in the past, and to go beyond it in the present and in the future. Paul often expressed this. Note Philippians 1:9, “This is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.”