Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.
At first glance, there is nothing different or unusual about what Paul says here, is there. He has been writing to Philemon about being motivated by grace and grace in action, and begins his closure with this confident request, refresh my heart in Christ.
The funny thing is though, where we read heart, Paul actually used the word σπλάγχνον, which, most commonly, is translated as bowels or intestines. So, is Paul writing to Philemon to schedule a colonoscopy?
Literally, σπλάγχνον does mean bowels or intestines, but figuratively it carries the meaning of the place of deepest emotion in your body.
So, for us in 2020, we would say something like ‘He has a broken heart’, or, ‘My heart is just so full of love for her’, or something to that effect. Simply, when we describe the deepest emotion we could feel, we would connect it to the heart. Back in Paul’s day, the deepest emotions were thought to come from the deepest place inside you, in the same way you may hear something like ‘I feel it in the pit of my stomach’.
All this to say, Paul is talking about serious, deep rooted, from-the- inside-out refreshment, and this certainly doesn’t come from temporal or temporary sources.
In context, Paul is talking about receiving a runaway slave back as a brother, and he knows that just as Philemon came to a saving faith in Christ through Paul (v.19b), it appears that Onesimus did too (v.8-16). Paul knows we all share in one Lord, we all have one Saviour, and in Him there is no distinction.
So, the deep refreshment in Christ that Paul is looking for?
Seeing others live out the business of the Gospel.
Someone Paul has pointed to Christ is now doing the work of Christ; forgiving, restoring, fellowshipping, and encouraging. What deep refreshment this would bring to Paul.
Think on this today – Who can I refresh in the Lord by doing the work of the Gospel?