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A Character Worthy Of Prayer - Philemon

Philemon 4

John L. Kachelman, Jr. 


I. John Dickinson, Esq., of Birmingham, England, was often called "the peacemaker." The equity of his decisions was rarely impeached. If John Dickinson had anything to do with a matter, then it had to be right! That kind of reputation is a commendable accomplishment. 

II. The lesson focuses attention on a quality we label "character." One's character is an amazing thing ­ it is visible yet invisible; it is made known by speech yet remains silent; it yields respect and ridicule from the same mouth. " A good character is a coat of triple strength, giving security to the wearer, protection to the oppressed, inspiring the oppressor with awe. 

III. Let's bring into sharp focus one whose character is marvelous ­ Philemon of Colossae. It appears that he lived in Colossae was probably converted to Christ during Paul's Ephesian ministry. It seems that Paul Philemon were close friends. From the personal letter written by Paul to Philemon we observe the tender affection of Paul for Philemon ­ he was always in the Apostle's prayers! Such was a result of the character that Philemon possessed. Consider this character that was worthy of Paul's prayers. It seems that he was a well-to-do citizen; he owned slaves; he had a house large enough to serve as an assembly meeting place; and, he was in a position to extend hospitality to a wide circle of brethren (v.2,5,16,22). 


I. Philemon's character ­ from microscope to memo pad. Just as the lab worker examines notes pertinent facts about the slide under view, we are able to look observe the following features of Philemon's character. 

A. We note the FOUNDATION of his character ­ "brother" (1,3). 

1. Philemon's character was based upon his spiritual relationship. When he heard the gospel obeyed its commands he accepted the mandate to change (Ro 12:1,2; Col 3:5-10). 

2. Becoming a Christian meant that Philemon's outlook on others would change ­ now they were his "brethren." His outlook on God changed ­ now God was "our Father." 

3. So pervasive was this conversion that Philemon's entire perspective changed (Gal 2:20; Ep 5:8). And as his perspective changed so did his character! 

4. He was a Christian such provided him with the foundation to create a new character (Ep 2:10; 2 Co 5:17). 

B. We note the MOTIVATION for his character ­ "love" (5,7,9). 

1. What was it that moved Philemon to develop such a godly character? A simple answer - "love" for God (Jn 14:15). "Love" for his fellow saints (Jn 13:35). 

2. Philemon's heart was sensitive; his kindness was tuned to pick up the need's in other's lives. 

3. The motivation of love is the supreme reason that we should deny self serve others (Gal 2:20b). When one is motivated by love then s/he will develop a godly character as Philemon. (1 Co 13:4-7). 

4. Philemon had grasped the beauty of God's love for him he was motivated by that understanding created a godly, loving character (1 Jn 3:16). 

C. We note the PRACTICE of his character. 

A general overview of the actions of Philemon from the book bearing his name indicates that he was full of faith godly practice. There are a few specifics where the character of Philemon really shines ­ 

1. His presence gave a comforting "refreshing" to fellow believers (7,20). Those who wee torn with strife inner-turmoil could find comfort in Philemon's presence. There was rest relief in his company. 

2. His behavior demonstrated obedience (21). His reputation gave Paul's plea a ready answer. He would obey quickly! 

3. His faith was practical (5). He was generous in practicing love benevolence. To Philemon the gospel lived only in the practice of its principles (1 Jn 4:7,20,21). To Philemon "theology" was not too cloistered in a seminary classroom but practiced in every place ­ "toward all." How beautiful! 

4. He was evangelistic (1,6). Paul's passing remark that he was a "fellow-worker" intimates the dedication of Philemon. The Apostle's desire that Philemon would "actively share" the gospel (6) was more a statement of fact than a prayer-wish. 

5. He was devoted to hospitality (22). A "lover of strangers" is always a reflection practice of God's will (Ro 12:13 - "pursuing"). 

6. Note : Such practices are not common. They are uniquely distinctive as belonging to one who has created a character after their heavenly Father. 

D. We note the CONSEQUENCES of his character. 

All seed sown will reap fruit such is true with Philemon (Hos 10:12). We would expect his character to bear fruit of a godly sort indeed it did. Note two ­ 

1. His character brought "joy" to brethren (7). Be sure to observe that his type of character brought "much joy" (Philip 1:7,8). 

2. He found blissful "grace" from God (25). There was a personal blessing found. God will recompense all who nurture a character such as Philemon (Hb 6:10). 

3. Note : The consequences of a character created governed by God's Word will bring a blessing (Ps 15:1-5). 

II. Philemon's character ­ from laboratory to life

Such a character, created by the gospel's influence, is a sparkling gem, an assured blessing. But we must take it out of the lab and put it into life if we are to gain. 

A. Let us use Philemon's character as a standard of honest evaluation for ourselves. 

1. Become really honest with yourself. Look into the depths of your heart, to your attitudes thoughts. 

a. Upon what is your character founded? Upon what values does it stand? ­ God or Self? (V.1,3). 

b. Why do you do what you do? What motivates you? (v.5). 

c. How practical is your "faith"? Is it confined to the church building? To Sundays? Does your faith permeate every aspect of your life? 

d. What consequences are you expecting in eternity? 

2. These questions are vitally important can only be correctly answered with a character created by the gospel's power. 

B. Let us remember that Philemon's character is a mandate for practical Christianity in our lives! We must live faith-in-action! How practical is your faith? Do others view you as a "practicing" Christian? 

"I know nothing of that man's creed," said a person of a religious tradesman with whom he dealt, "because I never asked him what he believed; but a more honorable, punctual, generous tradesman, I never met in my life. I would just as soon take his word for $1,000 as another man's for $1.00. Whatever he promises he performs, to the time also." 

Conclusion :

I. From the Asia Minor province comes a man of powerful character ­ Philemon, one who created a character that magnified God comforted brethren. Philemon shows us that our influence should be dramatic. Philemon's life demonstrated a loving cheerful servitude to his heavenly Father. His character was superb furnished a haven for tired, distraught brethren. No better words could describe him more than Philip 2:2-5. 

II. "Philemon" lit. "friendly, or affectionate." All saints have the privilege, no rather the duty, to become a modern "Philemon." It is a challenging thought must be accepted. 

III. Character is not a massive unit; it is rather a fabric. It is an artificial whole made up of the interplay of 10,000 threads. Every faculty is a spinner, spinning of a different color; character is made up by the weaving together of all these innumerable threads of daily life. Its strength is not merely in the strength some simple unit, but in the strength of numerous units. (Beecher). We must weave our characters with multiple elements. All we do, say, think, resolve go into the development of our character. At death the character is woven no more is removed from the loom held for all to see (Is 38:12). Look at the fabric of your character ­ what flaws need to be corrected so your character will be perfectly created by the gospel?

Copyright 1998 by John L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

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