“Having confidence in your obedience I write to you knowing that you will do more than I say.” Philemon 21
Faith in God leads to faith in myself, which leads to faith in others. Of the three, I believe this is the hardest form of faith. Why? Simply because People tend to disappoint us…all the time. They promise and then they turn and break their promise. They may be willing right now, but wait a minute, and they change their mind. Or they take forever to make up their mind as whether to help you or respond to your situation. Waiting on others can be frustrating, right?
Consider Paul and his situation with the man, Philemon. Paul reached out to Philemon with unwavering faith. He spoke so trustingly, believing that Philemon would respond to God’s will and would do what Paul asked him to do. How could he be so confident? How could he have so much faith in Philemon? I believe it was a result of the first two parts of faith in Paul’s life. Paul believed God wanted Philemon to forgive Onesimus, and also believed that God was working through his words to speak to Philemon about forgiving his slave. Paul believed in himself- that he was God’s leader and spokesman in behalf of Onesimus, and He believed in Philemon as one who would want to do God’s will. He also believed in Onesimus-that he was truly a changed man and would live out God’s plan for his life. All three of these parts of the situation came together and resulted as faith in the two men. What never happened in Roman culture between a slave and his master (Onesimus was under the death penalty) took place as part of God’s will. Onesimus later became a free man and a pastor of one of the churches in Ephesus during the first century. This letter, and example, later became a revolutionary movement to rid the empire of slavery without shedding any blood. When Paul wrote this letter, one third of Roman world was slaves. Later readers could announce, “Impossible…to possible…to done!”
How does faith work? We believe God has called us and sent us to help others. We believe that’s others will respond to that God-given call, and that they will make changes in their lives as a response. We will see changes in others due to our faith and obedience to follow God’s call. Faith in God, faith in ourselves, and faith in others complete the cycle that God began. He has faith in us that we will obey Him and do His will. Is it true? Are we following Him? Century after century has proven that God’s ways always work! His church is still a force to be reckoned with and is still serving this broken world of ours.
Do not focus on those who do not believe, but rather, focus on those who are willing to trust and obey. God always moves forward with those who are willing to trust God and, then, to trust you. When it seems that few people seem to be following… focus on the ones who ARE responding to God and believe in God’s Holy Spirit to work within them. God sent you, and God will give you success! There will always be someone for you to reach and to have the great joy of seeing them become a follower of Christ! Remember His promise. (Matthew 4:19)
Thank You for being such a place of stability when people disappoint us. Thank you for providing us with a calling and using us in others’ lives. It blows us away that we are used by You in changing other lives. May You increase our effectiveness and circle of influence. We want to be used in greater ways this year as never before. Hear us Father, for the glory of Your Son. In Jesus’ name. Amen.