Read Philemon 1-7 In this section Paul is thanking God for Philemon and his obvious devotion to the Lord and the church. And one of the things that Paul is encouraging in Philemon is that he learns more thoroughly what the fellowship he has with others means. This union with other believers has a practical impact on our lives. Paul has talked about some of these things in other places in the Scripture. Read Ephesians 4:25. Here in this larger section Paul is concerned with Christian behavior. He will talk about things like truthfulness (4:25), anger (4:26-27), stealing and giving (4:28), sinful speech (4:29) and overall attitudes and actions toward people (4:30-32). As we look at 4:25 again we see that he is concerned with believers speaking truthfully toward one another. What reason does Paul give for believers speaking the truth? The fact that we are “members of one another” is pointing to the fact that we are somehow connected with each other. Look over the following verses and see the reason Paul can say we are joined together: Ephesians 2:11-16, 18-22; 4:4-6 So through Jesus Christ and the salvation He has granted to us, we are now made into a new “man” or one new “body” (2:15, 19; 4:4). And this body is the church itself. As we are joined to Christ in faith we are also joined to each other by the Holy Spirit and now share a close bond together. This is what Paul refers to as he talks about us being “members of one another” in Ephesian 4:25. So, as we read Ephesians 4:25 again the reason Paul gives for us speaking the truth to one another is the reality that we are part of the same body and members together. Here we see the value of our unity with each other. It forms another basis for our holiness, and it gives us direction for our behavior. It is the reality of our close union together with brothers and sisters that should also influence the way we behave and live with other believers. Here it forms part of the rationale why we as believers are commanded to only speak the truth with each other. God says that our connection with other believers should lead us to be truthful. But why? It makes sense here because clearly if we are joined with other believers then to lie to them hurts the entire body and it destroys the unity that we are made to reflect. The Holy Spirit has joined us together (Eph 4:3-4) and created this peace and bond then how can we lie and attack that Spirit-created bond? What we see in Philemon, Ephesians and elsewhere is that the union and bond we have together is crucial and affects the real world we live in. We are used to hearing about the importance of this when it comes to helping support us when we are struggling (Rom 12:15) or even in helping us be sharpened (Prov 27:17). However, the Bible teaches us that this union and bond together with believers is absolutely necessary for other things like our holiness and our growth. It even impacts such things as holiness in our communication! We must grasp this if we are to grow to maturity. As we close, consider the following questions… Does the fact that you are joined and bound to other believers, affect the way you think about your behavior? Do you tend to view your Christian walk more in terms of an individual thing or as involving a crucial corporate element? How much of your life is lived in community with other believers or in isolation? If you feel that you tend toward isolation, then what can you do to become more connected with brothers and sisters in your church? Lord, you have not just saved me from sin and to yourself. You have also saved me to be joined with your other children. Forgive me for not treating other believers as my close family. Help me to see my brothers and sisters in the Lord as my family and let this union and bond be a driving force to challenge my lifestyle and my behavior! In Jesus’ name.
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