How to be an effective Christian
As Paul began his short letter to Philemon, he shared what he had been praying for his friend:
I always thank my God when I mention you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and faith toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints.
I pray that your participation in the faith may become effective through knowing every good thing that is in us for the glory of Christ.
Lewis Sperry Chafer counted 33 benefits the believer receives at the moment they trust Jesus for eternal life. A sampling of that list includes the following facts:
We are redeemed by God.
We are now related to God.
We are now acceptable to God.
Our sins are permanently paid for.
We are brought close to God.
We are delivered from the power of darkness.
We are part of a Holy and Royal priesthood.
We have a Heavenly citizenship.
These are incredible benefits, and Chafer’s entire list is just the starting point for our relationship with Christ. From here, we launch into an eternal relationship with God where we grow and mature, becoming more and more like Christ. On top of that, we even have the opportunity to earn eternal rewards for our participation with God in what He is doing here and now.
However, we will not be effective in our partnership with God and our maturity will be stunted if we think that any of our good qualities originate within us. This is what Paul is praying about for Philemon.
Just think about it…Philemon has a good reputation and hosts the local church meetings in his house. Philemon has the money and property to have the local church meet in his house. With blessings like these also comes the temptation to believe that he’s self-sustaining or that God should bless his efforts because he’s “so good”. However, that shift in attitude also brings a dangerous shift in focus…he would begin to focus on himself rather than on his Savior.
How can Philemon effectively minister about Jesus if he’s busy looking at himself?
Paul prays that Philemon would protect himself and his ministry from being ineffective; yet it’s a trap that we can easily fall into as well. The American Christian is quite rich, especially in comparison to our brothers and sisters in the rest of the world. We need to watch that our affluence doesn’t influence our understanding of where our blessings come from. As always, a Christ-focused mindset is the cure.