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Restoration is Good for Everybody

Philemon 1:20-21
I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask. (NIVUK)

The gospel is all about restoring sinners, who repent, to fellowship with God and His people. Paul had seen the penitence of the runaway slave, Onesimus, and observed his changed life.  

So, he asks his former master to receive him without recrimination (Philemon 1:12-16).  That would be the right thing to do: it would do Onesimus good, it would be good for Philemon's faith and witness, good for the Name of Christ and the progress of the gospel.  It would also be a continuation of the refreshment Paul received hearing news of Philemon who was a partner in the gospel (Philemon 1:17).

Whenever right teaching is put into practice it refreshes the heart of the teacher.  Most Christians do not give a second thought about their pastors' hearts after they have preached or taught in small groups.  Hebrews 13:17 says, "Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you."

Your pastor is not just a theologian distributing spiritual information, or a care-worker to meet your personal needs.  Every pastor loves their flock and longs that they be changed into the image of Christ.  Whenever that happens in you, you become a source of great spiritual refreshment to your teacher.  Your obedience to the Lord will encourage the pastor to persist in the hard task of spiritual shepherding.  So, when you respond to God's Word in faith, it is good for everybody!

Dear Lord God. Thank You for those who have taught me Your Word. I am sorry when I have taken them for granted or even despised their teaching. Forgive me when I have resisted Your call to be obedient, and thereby been a source of discouragement to my pastor. Please help me to appreciate the effect of my behaviour on the wider ministry of the church, and give me the grace to submit to godly teaching ... so that many people may come into blessing through the joyful ministry of the Word through Your servants. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams