“Yes, brother, let me have some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. Since I was confident that you would obey, I wrote to you, because I knew that you would do even more than what I am asking you to do. At the same time also, prepare a place for me to stay, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given back to you.”
Having urged Philemon to forgive Onesimus the way Christ has forgiven him (vv.13-18) Paul now says yes, brother, let me have some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.
Paul wants to be refreshed by seeing the Gospel at work in the forgiveness of Onesimus, just as the other believers had already been refreshed by Philemon’s living out of the good news of Jesus (v.7). Paul was sure that Philemon would do this and even more than was being asked of him (v.21), and Paul dearly wanted to visit (v.22).
The refreshment that Paul wanted was deep rooted and came from seeing the Gospel in action. There could be no deeper sense of satisfaction or refreshment for Paul than seeing those whom he discipled (v.19b) go on and live out their Christian lives.
The same is true for you and for me in principle. No, we’re probably not receiving runaway slaves back as beloved brothers, but the business of the Gospel, of forgiving, of restoring, of accepting, of loving selflessly and beyond what we think ourselves capable of is something that we can all strive to be doing each and every day. Loving others in a Gospel-centred way is beyond what we are capable of in our own strength and flesh, but the model and the method to do so is there for us in Christ Jesus.
Think on this today –
Who can I refresh in the Lord by doing the work of the Gospel?