I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers,
hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints,
that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.
For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.
Does Christian brotherly love really work, even in situations of extraordinary tension and difficulty? Will it work, for example, between a prominent slave owner and one of his runaway slaves? Paul has no doubt! He writes a “postcard” to Philemon, his beloved brother and fellow worker, on behalf of Onesimus—a deserter, thief, and formerly worthless slave, but now Philemon’s brother in Christ.
Philemon is a short, one chapter book — not so much a book, as a quick note — sent to a friend, and asking a favour. Indeed, the name, Philemon, means ‘one who loves’, and comes from the Greek phileo, to love or kiss. We often find ourselves talking about agape love (the highest form of love, used in John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life) — phileo love is ‘brotherly love’, the love of the saints for one another, and it is at the heart of Paul’s words in these few verses.
It is made plain that the refreshing of the hearts of the saints is the great joy and consolation to Paul, but also to all who love the Lord Jesus, for it is a mainstay of our earthly experience of the life of faith. Yes, we will have disagreements and difficulties with one another from time to time — sometimes serious ones — but it is that love that comes from the Father through our brother and friend, Jesus Christ, that binds us together. We are never Christian believers in isolation; we are always a community of believers, saints and sons of God, a corporate body, the Church of Jesus Christ and thus, His bride.
Have confidence that, in Christ, whatever may befall, His brotherly love and forgiveness, within us, will carry the day.
‘Meditate on these things…’
1 Thessalonians 4:9-12
But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more;
that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you,
that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.
YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND — Carole King
Although this is very much a secular song, the words are a good expression of the brotherly relationship we have with Jesus Christ. If you read the words and consider Him as you listen, you can make a connection beyond what might seem to be the original concept.
A HOLY CONDITION — Oswald Chambers on PEACE
GEORGE and GILL STEWART