"Every Good Thing Which Is In You"
"I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; that the communication (joint participation) of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus" (Philemon 1:4-6).
The Apostle Paul asks Philemon to do what he thinks may be difficult for his brother in Christ and friend. Onesimus, a servant of Philemon, had escaped and ended up in prison with Paul. The Apostle led Onesimus to faith in the Lord Jesus, and upon the man's release from prison, desires him to return to Philemon to be received "not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved" (Philemon 1:15-16). We know that Philemon responded well. In a later epistle, Colossians, Paul refers to Onesimus, who clearly had joined the Apostle as a fellow minister in the Gospel (Colossians 1:7-9).
Note that Paul precedes his request to Philemon by referencing a prayer he offered that involved Philemon's recognition of God's enabling power to obey - "the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus." The Apostle reveals the dynamic process of grace through faith whereby we not only begin the Christian life, but also walk in the power of its spirit and truth. God's promise precedes His command. Provision prefaces responsibility. Enabling makes possible obedience. This is the sequence of grace, again, as received by the faith that leads to good works. Our Lord's standards and will far outweigh our ability to fulfill them apart from His involved and active presence. Thus, He first deposits in our spirits "every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus." Then, He calls us to walk accordingly in many different expressions of response to the empowering life of "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).
Paul also reveals that our "acknowledging" plays a vital role in the outworking of such grace. We must know and affirm the "exceeding, abundantly above… power that worketh in you" in order to experience the enabling life of Christ (Ephesians 3:20). Philemon clearly responded well to such truth upon receiving Paul's letter, leading to his obedient response. The same will be true in our lives as we increasingly discover the miracle of transformative grace whereby the Spirit of Christ lives in us so that we may live through Him. Indeed, in the moment of our new birth, all power to obey the commands of God inhabited our innermost being in the person of the indwelling Holy Spirit. "His divine power hath given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness" - the gift - "through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue" - the awareness and appropriation of the gift (II Peter 1:3). Through Christ, we can do the difficult and even the seemingly impossible. We must know this about Him and about ourselves if a consistent and growing harvest of obedience is to yield "the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:11). Long ago, Philemon and Onesimus escaped the bonds of a master-servant relationship through the intercession of Paul, becoming spiritual brothers through "the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus." The difficult became the doable, through Christ, as it will in our hearts and lives by the same process of grace through faith unto good works.
"Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not previous, for whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world. And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
Weekly Memory Verse
"Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."