in the Christian Library
John L. Kachelman, Jr.
I. John Dickinson, Esq., of Birmingham, England, was often called "the
peacemaker." The equity of his decisions was rarely impeached. If John
Dickinson had anything to do with a matter, then it had to be right! That
kind of reputation is a commendable accomplishment.
II. The lesson focuses attention on a quality we label "character."
One's character is an amazing thing it is visible yet invisible;
it is made known by speech yet remains silent; it yields respect and ridicule
from the same mouth. " A good character is a coat of triple strength, giving
security to the wearer, protection to the oppressed, inspiring the oppressor
III. Let's bring into sharp focus one whose character is marvelous
Philemon of Colossae. It appears that he lived in Colossae was probably
converted to Christ during Paul's Ephesian ministry. It seems that Paul
Philemon were close friends. From the personal letter written by Paul to
Philemon we observe the tender affection of Paul for Philemon he
was always in the Apostle's prayers! Such was a result of the character
that Philemon possessed. Consider this character that was worthy of Paul's
prayers. It seems that he was a well-to-do citizen; he owned slaves; he
had a house large enough to serve as an assembly meeting place; and, he
was in a position to extend hospitality to a wide circle of brethren (v.2,5,16,22).
I. Philemon's character from microscope to memo pad. Just
as the lab worker examines notes pertinent facts about the slide under
view, we are able to look observe the following features of Philemon's
A. We note the FOUNDATION of his character "brother" (1,3).
1. Philemon's character was based upon his spiritual relationship. When
he heard the gospel obeyed its commands he accepted the mandate to change
(Ro 12:1,2; Col 3:5-10).
2. Becoming a Christian meant that Philemon's outlook on others would
change now they were his "brethren." His outlook on God changed
now God was "our Father."
3. So pervasive was this conversion that Philemon's entire perspective
changed (Gal 2:20; Ep 5:8). And as his perspective changed so did his character!
4. He was a Christian such provided him with the foundation to create a new character (Ep 2:10; 2 Co 5:17).
B. We note the MOTIVATION for his character "love" (5,7,9).
1. What was it that moved Philemon to develop such a godly character?
A simple answer - "love" for God (Jn 14:15). "Love" for his fellow saints
2. Philemon's heart was sensitive; his kindness was tuned to pick up
the need's in other's lives.
3. The motivation of love is the supreme reason that we should deny
self serve others (Gal 2:20b). When one is motivated by love then s/he
will develop a godly character as Philemon. (1 Co 13:4-7).
4. Philemon had grasped the beauty of God's love for him he was motivated
by that understanding created a godly, loving character (1 Jn 3:16).
C. We note the PRACTICE of his character.
A general overview of the actions of Philemon from the book bearing
his name indicates that he was full of faith godly practice. There are
a few specifics where the character of Philemon really shines
1. His presence gave a comforting "refreshing" to fellow believers (7,20).
Those who wee torn with strife inner-turmoil could find comfort in Philemon's
presence. There was rest relief in his company.
2. His behavior demonstrated obedience (21). His reputation gave Paul's
plea a ready answer. He would obey quickly!
3. His faith was practical (5). He was generous in practicing love benevolence.
To Philemon the gospel lived only in the practice of its principles (1
Jn 4:7,20,21). To Philemon "theology" was not too cloistered in a seminary
classroom but practiced in every place "toward all." How beautiful!
4. He was evangelistic (1,6). Paul's passing remark that he was a "fellow-worker"
intimates the dedication of Philemon. The Apostle's desire that Philemon
would "actively share" the gospel (6) was more a statement of fact than
5. He was devoted to hospitality (22). A "lover of strangers" is always
a reflection practice of God's will (Ro 12:13 - "pursuing").
6. Note : Such practices are not common. They are uniquely distinctive
as belonging to one who has created a character after their heavenly Father.
D. We note the CONSEQUENCES of his character.
All seed sown will reap fruit such is true with Philemon (Hos 10:12).
We would expect his character to bear fruit of a godly sort indeed it did.
1. His character brought "joy" to brethren (7). Be sure to observe that
his type of character brought "much joy" (Philip 1:7,8).
2. He found blissful "grace" from God (25). There was a personal blessing
found. God will recompense all who nurture a character such as Philemon
3. Note : The consequences of a character created governed by God's
Word will bring a blessing (Ps 15:1-5).
II. Philemon's character from laboratory to life.
Such a character, created by the gospel's influence, is a sparkling
gem, an assured blessing. But we must take it out of the lab and put it
into life if we are to gain.
A. Let us use Philemon's character as a standard of honest evaluation
1. Become really honest with yourself. Look into the depths of your
heart, to your attitudes thoughts.
a. Upon what is your character founded? Upon what values does it stand?
God or Self? (V.1,3).
b. Why do you do what you do? What motivates you? (v.5).
c. How practical is your "faith"? Is it confined to the church building?
To Sundays? Does your faith permeate every aspect of your life?
d. What consequences are you expecting in eternity?
2. These questions are vitally important can only be correctly answered
with a character created by the gospel's power.
B. Let us remember that Philemon's character is a mandate for practical
Christianity in our lives! We must live faith-in-action! How practical
is your faith? Do others view you as a "practicing" Christian?
"I know nothing of that man's creed," said a person of a religious tradesman
with whom he dealt, "because I never asked him what he believed; but a
more honorable, punctual, generous tradesman, I never met in my life. I
would just as soon take his word for $1,000 as another man's for $1.00.
Whatever he promises he performs, to the time also."
I. From the Asia Minor province comes a man of powerful character
Philemon, one who created a character that magnified God comforted brethren.
Philemon shows us that our influence should be dramatic. Philemon's life
demonstrated a loving cheerful servitude to his heavenly Father. His character
was superb furnished a haven for tired, distraught brethren. No better
words could describe him more than Philip 2:2-5.
II. "Philemon" lit. "friendly, or affectionate." All saints have the
privilege, no rather the duty, to become a modern "Philemon." It is a challenging
thought must be accepted.
III. Character is not a massive unit; it is rather a fabric. It is an
artificial whole made up of the interplay of 10,000 threads. Every faculty
is a spinner, spinning of a different color; character is made up by the
weaving together of all these innumerable threads of daily life. Its strength
is not merely in the strength some simple unit, but in the strength of
numerous units. (Beecher). We must weave our characters with multiple elements.
All we do, say, think, resolve go into the development of our character.
At death the character is woven no more is removed from the loom held for
all to see (Is 38:12). Look at the fabric of your character what
flaws need to be corrected so your character will be perfectly created
by the gospel?
Copyright 1998 by John
L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes
at no cost to others.