Love Appeals to the Heart
The gospel radically reconstructs your relationships to others within the body of Christ so that there can be intimacy, fellowship, and love instead of alienation. You’re reminded almost daily through world events that societal and ethnic isolation remains a problem. But it is not only a problem “out there” in the world, but alienation also penetrates into your home, family, and personal life, too. Separation is in your heart.
PHILEMON 1:1-7 (NASB)
1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, 2 and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philemon’s Love and Faith
4 I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints; 6 and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake.7 For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.
COLOSSIANS 4:17 (NASB)
17 Say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”
COLOSSIANS 1:21 (NASB)
21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,
Have you ever felt like you were on the outside looking in? Describe that experience.
If you felt you were being alienated by someone, how would you most likely respond: confront the issue, pretend you don’t notice, withdraw from the relationship because you don’t want that kind of person in your life, worry over it, or something else? Explain.
In this week’s message we learned, “Alienation is in our hearts.” Considering your own relationships and encounters with people, would you agree that this statement is true of you? Why or why not?
Are there any situations where you believe alienating someone is the right course of action? Explain.
What does Paul’s introduction tell you about his view of himself? Of his relationships?
Paul was in prison in Rome. Was it his business to write this letter to Philemon about his relationship with Onesimus? Why or why not?
Why do all believers have a responsibility to encourage and hold one another accountable?
How might your relationships change if you were to view other believers as brothers, sisters, and “fellow soldiers”?
If you had to nail it down to one thing, what would you say is your greatest priority in life?
What qualities in Philemon did Paul commend?
If Philemon was a man of such esteemable Christian character, then why did Paul feel the need to pray for him?
What circumstances might tempt you to withhold love or forgiveness from another believer?
How does the fellowship of faith become ineffective when you give into those temptations to alienate others?
Who are some Christians whose presence makes you feel refreshed? What is it that makes these people refreshing to be around?
What are some specific ways that you can refresh other Christians?
Just as Philemon had refreshed the hearts of the saints through his faith, love, and ministry, Paul intended to refresh the hearts of Philemon, Onesimus, and the Colossian church. When has someone refreshed your heart by calling you to a deeper, and perhaps difficult, walk of faith?
What might be the opposite of being a person who refreshes others by his or her fellowship? How can you avoid being that type of person?
Paul cited evidence of love and faith in Philemon’s life. What are some specific ways love and faith need to be more apparent in your life, whether at home, within the church, or in the community?
As a group, how are we doing at encouraging intimacy, fellowship, and love instead of alienation? How can we do better?
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