“Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord.”
Paul requests affirmative action from Philemon. He expects a “yes” from Philemon.
let me have joy from you in the Lord;
The apostle Paul will have “joy” if Philemon forgives Onesimus. “Joy” here is literally profit. The name Onesimus means profit, so this may be a play on words on his name. If Philemon forgives Onesimus, that will be profitable for Paul.
Paul loved both master and slave. He uses entreaty to appeal to Philemon and not a command. He does not use coercion but appeals on a personal basis.
refresh my heart in the Lord
Philemon was known for refreshing the saints (v. 7). Now he has a chance to refresh the apostle Paul. The words “me” and “my” are emphatic in Greek. Paul says, “Philemon, you have blessed many others; would you bless me this time? If you deal kindly with Onesimus, you will bless me and refresh me. I seem to plead for Onesimus, but I am beseeching for myself as well.”
Ministry should always be “in the Lord” (cf. v. 16). We do it for the Lord and in His power. This is the polar opposite of ministering in self-interest. This is the fellowship of ministry. Philemon’s release of Onesimus will refresh Paul and advance the cause of Christ.
God expects us to bless other people.
Some of us cannot teach or preach, but we can be a blessing to others. Ask God to show you how you can personally bless others. We used to sing, “Make me a blessing.” In an age of self-centeredness, we need a modern song with the same idea.
Ga 6: 10, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith!”
He 6: 10, “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”
Be a blessing to the family of God, to the household of faith. Many of us look for a blessing for ourselves rather than be a blessing to others. Let us pray, “Lord, help me take the load off someone today.” People around us have much deeper problems than we know. It is our opportunity to discover where people hurt and help them.
Problems come in different packages. Some are financial, some personal, and some family. If we spread some sunshine in their lives, it will make their load lighter. This is the ministry of “refreshing” others.