Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC 

Philemon 1:1-7
Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our beloved fellow worker 2 and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father

and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, 6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. 7 For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

I love the summer time. I love long warm days where my family and I can get outside and have fun. I love the smell of fresh cut grass. I love hanging out at the pool or going to the lake with friends. I would much rather sweat than freeze! After spending the day out in the summer heat with family or friends there is nothing like a tall ice cold glass of sweet tea to quench your thirst and provide refreshment. Watching a beautiful summer sunset with your family with a nice glass of sweet tea in your hand is pretty close to heaven if you ask me.  

Paul is writing here to his fellow brother Philemon and the church meeting in his home, and Paul says he was thankful to God for the way they refreshed the hearts of the saints. The word refreshed here is the same word in the Greek that Jesus used in Matthew 11:28 when he said, “Come to Me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Putting this in context what Paul is saying is that the saints could rest around Philemon and his church leadership. They could just be themselves. No pretense. No burdens added. No standards you have to meet for me to respect you. No manipulation or selfish ambition. They could just rest in their presence and grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. 

Which leads to a good question: are people refreshed around you and I? Can they just rest around us? Do we love people just as they are without any expectation of them meeting some kind of standard we’ve set in our own heart and mind? Do we want everyone else to serve us and agree with us or do we just love people as they are and allow the Holy Spirit to transform them as He sees fit? 

So often in the church we expect others to dress like us, talk like us, think like us, and act just like us. We have this vision of Christianity that is more married to our traditions and preferences than to Christ. The Lord wants us to live a refreshing life. This means carrying one another’s burdens instead of adding to them. This means loving people through struggles instead of turning our backs on them. This means laying down our preconceived notions of what the Christian life is supposed to look like and just let the Scriptures be our guide. This means exercising great patience, mercy, and grace toward those who might offend us because we have been shown infinite mercy by Jesus. 

So, do people leave your presence and mine saying, “Man, I really enjoyed my time with him (her) and I truly believe he (she) cares for me?” Are we more like the ice cold glass of sweet tea to their soul or the hot summer sun? I don’t know about you but I really want to be known as an encourager. Encouragement stimulates while negative criticism deflates. Let’s inspire one another to live for God. Church, let’s enjoy one another’s company instead of pointing out each other’s faults and differences. Let’s be refreshing. 

Dear Lord, help me to live a refreshing life. Lord, help me put the needs and desires of others above myself. Help me to serve and care about others first. Thank You for being so patient and kind to me and help me be the same to others. In Jesus name, amen. 

Micah 6:8
He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?