Sunday, December 10, 2017

Prayer For You

Loving Father, we thank you for teaching us from Paul’s Epistle to Philemon on how to be excellent Brother’s Keepers – a selfless journey worth pursuing and staying on. Father, as we desire to reflect Christ more and more and to establish the kingdom of heaven here on earth, we choose not to stop pursuing wisdom from the word because it is the only sure way to do so.

So far we have learned that in order to be a brother’s keeper, we will work as a team, live accountable lifestyles, remain prayerful, praise and rejoice with and for one another. Reconcile. We will be considerate, we will encourage and forgive. We will keep likeminded companionships and develop trustworthy character traits and more.

We take authority over any and every desire to live mediocre lifestyles and settle for the status quo. We refuse to be shortchanged in life. We choose to experience victory in every relationship we engage in. We will not barely make it in life; we will live excellently and prevail in every situation because we are knowledgeable about what your word says concerning that situation.

We are so grateful that you love us so much not to live us in the dark. We do not take this for granted. We receive the grace, ability, and willingness to do as expected. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Know Your Place

Something very outstanding is revealed to us in this epistle that should not go unnoticed. We are taught to be knowledgeable about our place in the lives of the people we associate with. Let’s look at this together – Paul related with several people in this Epistle and I want us to see the progression and differences of the relationships.

When Paul related with Timothy, he referred to him as my brother/our brother (Philemon 1:1b)
When Paul related with Philemon, he referred to him as a good friend and companion (fellow laborer/worker, co-worker (Philemon 1:1c)
When Paul related with Onesimus, he referred to him as his spiritual child (Philemon 1:10a)

As you practice to become an effective and excellent brother’s keeper, your success will become even more evident when you do so skillfully and knowledgeably - by knowing your place in the life of the person you relate with and also knowing their place in your life. It will save you so much confusion and lack of direction. It will create a healthy platform for discussions and interactions. It will completely eliminate vain living.

Knowing your place will also increase your influence in the life of the person. Do not be quick to relate with others without vision and purpose. It is possible to influence and impact relationships. This can only happen when you prayerfully know your place in the life of the person and their place in your life. Amen.


A trustworthy person is a reliable person. It is commonly said that trust is built or developed over time. Trust is earned through a series of exchanges and occurrences of character traits exhibited by a person. When we trust God, we are simply saying that in the absence of any trace of Him, when the occurrences around us do not seem to reflect Him, we can depend and trust in His never changing character over time. Amen!

The Epistle of Paul to Philemon communicates an aspect of trust between Paul and Philemon. After encouraging Philemon to receive Onesimus no longer as a slave but as a brother in the Lord, Paul further tells Philemon to credit His account on anything that Onesimus owes him. Then he says

Philemon 1:21 (NKJV)
Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.
Emphasis Mine

I call that a statement of trust – having confidence in your obedience. In the absence of Philemon’s presence, Paul could still rely on his character. This is what I call a true brother’s keeper relationship. He trusted and could count on his character.

Now, examine yourself as you improve on becoming an outstanding brother’s keeper. Has your character overtime been that which has built trust between you and your fellow brethren in the Lord? If not, all hope is not lost. Carefully and intentionally work on yourself so that you offer nothing but the best of you in your relationships.

Like-Minded Companionship

Companionship is not limited to a tangible company. By this, I specifically mean, company that can be touched physically. The thoughts we meditate on, the books we read, the social media exposure, the television shows we watch are all different ways we can choose to keep company with something or someone. As we read through Paul’s epistle to Philemon, one thing is very obvious; Paul and Philemon were not in the same location, however, thoughts of Philemon kept running through the mind of Paul as he penned this epistle to Philemon.

Paul refers to Philemon as …my good friend and companion in this work (Philemon 1:1a MSG). When we refer to like-minded companionship, we simply mean keeping company with someone who has similar goals and interests as you. This is very obvious in Paul’s statement… my good friend and companion in this work (Philemon 1:1a MSG). By implication, they were together for a reason – they worked together and in this case, for kingdom purposes. One of Paul’s responsibilities was to plant churches and one of the churches planted was in Philemon’s house (…and to the church in your house (Philemon 1:2b (NKJV)).

By implication, it was not idle companionship. The goals were clear, there was a vision and possibly a mission. When they met, they had a platform for communication. I believe it was almost unlikely for Paul and Philemon to have a conversation and not mention the well-being of the church in terms of problem-solving, goal setting and how to make changes in order to benefit the church, etc.

There are great benefits in like-minded companionship because the returns are even greater. Purposefully keep company with like-minded people. The question that may arise is this, if indeed I am a brother’s keeper, should I not care about the well-being of my brethren who are perishing? Yes, indeed you should care and there are skillful approaches you can all use to make that companionship beneficial to both of you. Relate with knowledge and by so doing, you will know which skill should be implemented.

There are many, and I will mention a few as seen in the book of Jude 1:22-23 (NIV)
Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear-hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

It was on the basis of Christlike mindedness that Paul was calling on Philemon to accept Onesimus. Amen!

Brother's Keeper - Forgive

We are not told about Philemon’s response to Paul, however, we can arrive at a reasoning that Paul’s goal was to have Philemon forgive Onesimus for running away. In order to fully benefit from each other as Brother’s Keepers, learn to forgive and encourage the people around you to purposefully live a lifestyle of forgiveness.

We forgive because we have been forgiven. When the Father forgives us of our sins, we are empowered to do likewise- knowing that we are emulating Him in the process.

Matthew 6:12 (NIV) 
 Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.

It is easier to forgive when you have Christ in you because you understand the significance of forgiveness. You understand the price He paid for your reconciliation with the Father. You will be a better person if you live a lifestyle of forgiveness versus resentment, bitterness, grudges, etc.

Brother's Keeper - Encourage

As a Brother’s Keeper, you need to be an encourager – encouraging those around you especially with the word of God to accept Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives. We are looking at a situation whereby Paul has led Onesimus to Christ and he is about to send Onesimus to his master Philemon.

Philemon 1: 11, 15-17 (NIV)
 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
Emphasis Mine

Being in Christ places you in a position of better usefulness as a person, than out of Christ. Permit me remind you that when God created you, he placed potentials in you. These potentials can only be tapped through the knowledge of HIM who placed the potentials in you. Out of HIM, you are at risk of never becoming all that you ought to be in this life.

So too was the case with Onesimus. His name actually means useful, profitable, beneficial yet he lived like a slave throughout his life until he met Paul and his life changed. Paul is now telling Philemon in vs 11 that formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.

Philemon 1:15-17 (NIV)
 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord. So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 
Emphasis Mine

If you are now in Christ, can you relate? Has there been a significant change in your life ever since you came to Him? Have you become more useful in kingdom matters, now that you know Him? In Christ, you begin to understand God’s purpose for your life and effectively function in it. By so doing, you become a useful contributor to the lives of the people around you.

I will use this opportunity to encourage you that vain living, vain talking will never profit you and those around you. Live life knowing that you will give an account on the day of judgement for every idle/empty word spoken Matthew 12:36.
Do not exist. Live purposefully. Cease every opportunity to make a lasting impact in the lives of one or many. Purpose to leave a legacy.

We are not told if Paul and Onesimus met again – however, I am certain Onesimus lived to remember that Paul led him to Christ- It was the turning point of Onesimus life. Make your life more useful, more profitable and more beneficial, first to yourself, then your family and friends. Amen!

Brother's Keeper - Considerate

Have you ever thought of a time in your life whereby your position in society, ministerial gift/ office, etc. had a negative influence on you? That was not the case with Paul.

Paul’s Plea for Onesimus – Philemon 1:8-9
Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus.
Emphasis mine

Paul did not allow his position as an apostle to have a negative influence on how he treated others. Rather, fully conscious of his place, position and influence, he was very considerate on how he treated people. He allowed himself to be guided by love - yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love (vs 9a).

Philippians 2:3-5 (NIV)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.

Brother's Keeper - Reconciliation

Paul’s Plea for Onesimus – Philemon 1:8-12 (NIV)
Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.  I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 
Emphasis Mine

Paul is pleading with Philemon on behalf of Onesimus – telling Philemon to show kindness to Onesimus. Onesimus was ministered to by Paul while in the Roman prison. Paul was therefore his spiritual father by implication. A time came when Paul decided to send Onesimus back to his master Philemon. However, there had to be reconciliation between Philemon and Onesimus and this was facilitated by Paul.

Reconciliation or to reconcile, is to restore friendly relations between people. This was an outstanding move by Paul because he did just what Jesus did for us. Do you know it is scriptural that the ministry of reconciliation has been given to us? Yes it has!

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (NIV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 
Emphasis mine.

Therefore, in order for reconciliation to occur, it has to involve more than one person. It is an attempt to bridge the gap (in this case God and humans; Philemon and Onesimus). There has to be a middle man. Jesus and Paul respectively.

Reconciliation is a Christ-like action and a gift to us. Therefore, in order for reconciliation to have a lasting effect, it must be done HIS way. The goal of the middle man in reconciling is to make sure that the one who is being reconciled no longer appears bad.

Reconciliation is aimed at having an eternal benefit. So when in position to reconcile and doubt whether or not it is the right thing to do, ask yourself this question. Will this action lead to an eternal benefit?

So, as a Brother’s Keeper, remember to use the gift of reconciliation for the glory of the Lord. Amen.

Brother's Keeper - Praise And Rejoice With Another

Paul rejoiced as he wrote to Philemon. In this context, Paul was filled with joy because of Philemon’s growth in spiritual aspects (things).

Philemon 1:7 (NIV) 
 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
Emphasis Mine

We previously examined the kind of prayer Paul prayed for Philemon and we can agree that such a prayer of thanksgiving can only be made by someone who rejoices with you.

Paul acknowledged the following about Philemon
·       Philemon’s faith in the Lord Jesus (vs 5)
·       Philemon’s love for all God’s people (vs 5)
·       Philemon was definitely someone who loved others because Paul acknowledged that Philemon’s love has given him much joy and comfort. And Philemon’s kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people (vs 7). Amen.

So, it takes only someone who genuinely rejoices with you and what you do, to patiently acknowledge what you do. It suffice to say that Paul was praising Philemon as well. It is okay to praise one another. It is wrong to worship one another. You praise someone for what they have done. Worship is reserved for our one and only wise God.

Let’s make these principles practical. How often do you acknowledge the things people do around you? (For you and for others?). How often do you praise them? Let’s learn this principle from Paul’s Epistle to Philemon. Praise and rejoice with and for one another.

Brother's Keeper - Prayerful

Philemon 1:4 (NIV)
I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, - Emphasis mine

Philemon 1:4 (NLT)
I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, - Emphasis mine

Philemon 1:4 (ESV)
I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, - Emphasis mine

Philemon 1:4 (KJV)
I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, - Emphasis mine

When we take a closer look at the above scriptural references, we can agree that it was habitual for Paul to pray, and when he did, he prayed for Onesimus. So, “when he prayed” not “if he prayed”. Amen.

One way to be your Brother’s Keeper is to purposefully pray for them. Your prayers will go a long way where your physical strength cannot take you. Praying for another is an expression of selflessness on your part and also an example of a godly lifestyle.

In this case, Paul prayed a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord for Philemon because he kept hearing about Philemon’s faith and his love for God’s people (Philemon 1:5 (NIV)). Paul further prayed that Philemon will put into action the generosity that comes from his (Philemon) faith as Philemon understands and experiences all the good things we have in Christ (Philemon 1:6 (NIV)).

Your situation might be different. You are surrounded by people you can pray for and depending on the situation you might pray a prayer of thanksgiving, intervention, that they should come to the knowledge of Christ and more - just based on the need.

The principle of “when you pray” is also recorded in Matthew 6:5-7 (NIV)

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
Emphasis mine

Examine your prayer life. Prayer is communication with your heavenly Father – you have a relationship with Him. Maintain the bond through communication. Then, when you pray (communicate), always remember to pray for your fellow brothers and sisters. That is what Paul is teaching us through this Epistle to Philemon.

Brother's Keeper - Accountability

Accountability is simply keeping your commitments to people. How accountable are you?
Can people count on you?
Paul had a responsibility to the body of Christ as an apostle such that wherever he found himself, he could not help but be accountable and responsible.

Philemon 1:10 (NIV)
“that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains.”
Emphasis mine

This verse gives us the understanding that, even while in chains, Paul led Onesimus to Christ and Onesimus became a changed person.

Circumstances can skew our ability to be people of accountability. However, I submit to you this day that accountability is one of the highest levels of maturity a human being can exhibit. Please do not be deceived by the myth which cause people to think that accountability is for kids alone or accountability reveals immaturity.

We can only imagine how uncomfortable it could have been for Paul to minister Christ to Onesimus from chains, yet he did it. Paul kept his commitment to the body of Christ in spite of his circumstances. Are you keeping your commitments or have you allowed your current inconveniences to handicap your ability to be accountable? Better still, as a child of God, are you keeping your commitments to him?

Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Emphasis Mine

Are you committed to being an ambassador for Christ? Properly representing Him? Are you carrying out the Great Commision?
We count on the Lord every minute of our lives for the breath of life, can He count on us to properly represent him here on earth?

Brother's Keeper - Teamwork

Paul was a mentor to Timothy. Paul had met Timothy during one of his missionary journeys (Acts 16:1-5). Paul and Timothy began travelling together. Timothy grew spiritually in the process and as a result, Paul began entrusting Timothy with important assignments. Remember that for Paul to have been a mentor to Timothy, it must have meant that Paul was imparting into Timothy’s life in an area where Timothy needed to grow. In this case spiritual growth.

Timothy started from somewhere and eventually grew up to a place where he co-authored an epistle with Paul. We are shining light on the fact that, although it is known that Paul authored this epistle, we ought to admit that Timothy was present as words of encouragement were being penned to Philemon.

Philemon 1:1 (NIV) 
 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker. 
Emphasis Mine

Even before we get into the details of this epistle to Philemon, we begin to see the aspects of Brother’s Keeper arising. A relationship between a mentor and a mentee. In this case Paul and Timothy respectively; working for a common good – which is to encourage Philemon to accept his former runaway slave, as a brother in the Lord.

They teamed up – in this case, not as a mentor/mentee, rather as brothers in the Lord to see that there was reconciliation, forgiveness, acceptance, etc. between other brethren (Philemon and Onesimus). This action between Paul and Timothy does not only help Philemon and Onesimus, it strengthens the bond and believe system of Paul and Timothy. It also maintains a healthy atmosphere of accountability.

Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) 
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

I will state here that, it is not unusual for a mentor and a mentee to have a common goal. You may ask the question, how are all these related to this series “Brother’s Keeper?” Teamwork creates a healthy atmosphere of accountability and productivity. It fosters growth and healthy development in different areas of life. Especially when you team up with right people.

There are so many things we can do apart from each other and become fruitful and productive. In the same vein – so many things can be done together and account for much.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 (NKJV) 
 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.

Purposefully learn to work as a team so that you learn and grow in your accountability virtue. Be keen to know when to work alone or together. There was a time when Jesus went up to the mountain to pray alone (Matthew 14:23), there was a time when fellowshipping with His disciples was imperative. (1 Corinthians 11:17-34).

Matthew 14:23 (NIV)  
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.
Emphasis Mine

Brother's Keeper - Introduction

The book of Philemon is an epistle known to be written by Paul to Philemon. It is a New Testament epistle sand witched between the book of Titus and the book of Hebrews. It has one chapter and 25 verses. I will encourage you to do a study on this Epistle.

In summary, Philemon was a friend to Paul and a fellow laborer in the vine. Philemon was also known to be a legal slave owner. The name of the slave was Onesimus - a Greek name associated with meaning useful, profitable, beneficial. Philemon - a Greek name associated with meaning affectionate.

Philemon was a member of the church in Colosse at the time. Meanwhile, Paul (the writer of this epistle) was imprisoned in Rome. Onesimus escaped from his slave master Philemon-in order words, Onesimus was a runaway slave. Upon his escape, Onesimus made his way to Rome, where he eventually met with Paul who led him to Christ.

Before long, Paul encouraged Onesimus to return to his slave master Philemon. Slaves who ran away from their master were subject to death - for the fear of being killed, I want to believe that Onesimus was hesitant about returning to Philemon.

In this epistle, Paul pleads to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus, asking Philemon to receive Onesimus not as a slave, rather a fellow brother in the Lord. Paul in this epistle, called on Philemon to credit his account on any charges owed by Onesimus to Philemon and he (Paul) will pay on behalf of Onesimus.

Let’s delve deeper into the epistle Paul wrote to Philemon and together benefit from what the Father has prepared for us this season as we begin this series titled “Brother’s Keeper”.

In this series, we will be embracing a selfless journey; we’ll learn the significance of being one another’s keeper, how it is our responsibility to care about the welfare of our fellow brethren. This series will certainly cause us to re-examine how well or not we treat others; how far we will go for another and more. We trust that you will be blessed as we journey together. 


There is an endless list of individuals in scriptures who served as instruments of change in the lives of others. The frequency of th...