Although some people may feel Paul was buttering up Philemon in order to win the release of Onesimus, the slave, it is apparent Paul’s dealings with Philemon had demonstrated the godly nature of his character. This was obvious not only to Paul, but apparently to others who knew him. What are people saying about us? When they comment on our character are their words positive or is the opposite true? Examining what Paul had to say about Philemon provides us with an excellent pattern to follow in the development of a godly character.
We build a godly reputation by demonstrating faithfulness. Paul had heard about the “faith” of his friend. (Philemon 5) It is clear these words of commendation had come to Paul’s attention through the testimony of others. He even wanted Philemon to fully to understand the ramifications of his faith. (Philemon 7) We build a godly reputation by allowing God’s love to flow through us. Paul specifically mentioned Philemon’s “love for the saints” and the hospitable nature of his love. (Philemon 5, 7, 22) It is clear his love exceeded mere lip service. Paul was asking him to extend his love in a greater way and forgive Onesimus and free him as well. We build a godly reputation by encouraging others. Philemon’s actions had been a great source of refreshing encouragement to Paul. (Philemon 7) No one wants to be hung with the label of being some one who pulls others down through negativity and discouragement. We build a godly reputation by obedience to Christ. When we carry out God’s ways of faithfulness and love, we definitely have to be obedient. The Apostle John made it clear love and obedience were synonymous, and to build a godly reputation obedience and love are not optional.
(Overview of the evening message for May 29, 2011)