“I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ (Philemon 1:20).”
What refreshes you? Is it a dip in the lake? A frosty drink? A good run? Ten hours sleep? A shower?
Every one of us is refreshed by something. Personally, I am strengthened and revived through purposeful work. I came to Jesus Christ out of the need to have purpose in my life. So if the job I am doing seems empty and unfulfilling, I am miserable. Unfortunately, too much of my life has been spent in misery, working in positions that don’t suit or stimulate me. How to deal with that is a topic for another day.
The apostle Paul knew what refreshed him. He was revived and replenished by the love of his friends. Paul had a friend named Philemon who once owned a slave, Onesimus. Paul met up with Onesimus and led him to Christ. Paul wrote Philemon and told him he was sending Onesimus back to him as a brother in Christ, not as a slave. He wanted the former slave owner to welcome Onesimus back. (Philemon 1:12-17).
Paul wasn’t exactly in paradise when he wrote this note to Philemon. He was in chains in Rome. In fact, he met Onesimus there. Apparently Onesimus had ministered to Paul in his imprisonment. So giving him up wasn’t easy. The inference in Paul’s note was that Philemon would send him back to Paul.
Paul knew a “refresher” when he saw one. He had observed Philemon refresh others (Philemon 1:7). He wanted some of that refreshment sent his way.
The apostle Paul might have been in jail, but he kept his purpose in life front and center. He had received it when he first met Christ. His task was to know Christ and make him known to the Gentiles. He might have been miserable where he was. After all, it was prison! But knowing his purpose kept him going. But its always nice to get a little encouragement from flesh and blood people once in a while. Onesimus provided that, as did other friends like Philemon.
I don’t think my personality lends itself to being a “refresher”. In fact, I am more like a drink of sour vinegar on a hot day to some people. I have to work at it. It involves a lot of change for me to go from being a cantankerous, unsympathetic curmudgeoun to a caring, nurturing saint.
I should start at home with my “refresher” course. . I should also seek to implement it in my own prison, the workplace. Perhaps I am not fulfilled there. But I can attempt to encourage and renew others. It could be that if I seek to refresh others, I myself will be refreshed and give my work there some purpose.