“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14 – New American Standard Bible).
The summer I turned thirteen, my oldest brother, Jim, was home on leave from the Army. He was almost nine years older than me, and my childhood hero. He had ten or twelve days of leave left, and was going to South Dakota to visit his in-laws before shipping off to Germany. I was being childishly selfish, not wanting him to leave. In disappointment and anger I screamed, “I CAN’T STAND YOU!” Running into the house, I heard Jim’s calls, but didn’t turn back. That was the last thing that I ever said to Jim face to face. A few months later, Jim was killed in an auto accident.
Have you ever noticed how Paul ended every letter he wrote? Take a moment and thumb through Paul’s epistles. You will find that he always chose to pray grace and peace on those to whom he was addressing. That’s a tremendous show of love and concern. Think about it…Paul prays that those to whom he is writing experience God’s unmerited favor and tranquility with the Almighty!
We need to learn this in our relationships today. We need to learn to appreciate those around us to the point that there are no “everyday goodbyes.” It becomes hard to be mad at, or take for granted, anyone whom we are praying the best of God upon. Philemon obviously understood that. He made it onto the pages of God’s word by his “love for all of God’s people” (Philemon 5b – NLT). Paul knew of God’s love in Philemon, for Paul said of Philemon, “For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother” (Philemon 7 NASB).
In Paul’s letter to Philemon, Paul has a tough issue to talk to Philemon about. That being said, Paul still wishes grace and peace to his brother in the Lord. Leave no one with unkind words. Leave no bad feelings. Regardless of what you may encounter in your relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ, you belong to the same Savior. Treat each other like you know that.
Fortunately, I did get to apologize to my brother through letters and calls. Years later, having matured to a degree, that experience has taught me to part with folks like Paul…praying GOD’S best for them. Will you refresh the heart of some saint today?