Refresh others in Christ

It was just a little wave of the hand.

During our last week of summer break, my kids and I  trekked out to Colonial Williamsburg for a day.

We explored the market, took pictures of the horses pulling the carriages through town, and watched the weaver at work.

In and out of the crowd we wove from place to place.  My son kept trying to run ahead, but we’d draw him back in and tell him he had to “hold hands with one of the girls.”

So, he’d grip onto one sister’s palm.  Then another.  Trading back and forth.

Then I held his hand for a bit in one of the shops because–golly, there are a lot of fun things a three-year-old wants to touch and shouldn’t!  Glancing down, I saw him giving a little wave to  someone in the group of fellow visitors.

But we didn’t know anyone in the crowd.

So, a little confused, I followed my son’s gaze to see who he was connecting with.  That’s when I saw a man in an electronic  wheelchair just across from us return my son’s little wave with his own little nod of greeting.

As we moved from place to  place in the town that day,  I think we must have seen that same man with his family at least three different times and my son waved each time  to him.

It  was just the smallest thing.  An acknowledgement.  A little hello.

I don’t know why my three-year-old noticed this gentleman in particular or what encouraged him to make any sort of connection.  I  didn’t see him wave at another person the whole day.

But sometimes, I guess, you just know when someone needs a kind greeting, a friendly wave,  and a smile .

May we be noticers,  too.

May we pay attention to those around us.

May we be sensitive to a hurt heart,  a need,  or a bad day.

May we be “refreshers”–those who renew joy, renew strength, renew hope, and pour Jesus into the lives of others.

 

That’s one of Paul’s themes in his letter to Philemon.  He says:

 For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you (verse 7).

What was it about Philemon that blessed the hearts of the saints around him?

Paul describes him this way:

I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.[a]

Philemon loved Jesus.

He loved others.

He shared his faith.

Life can tangle us up in complications and busyness.  Our own needs scream for attention and our own hurts can entice us to draw inwards instead of reaching out.

We have so many reasons, so  many reasonable reasons, to hold back.

I’m an introvert.  Hospitality and mercy are some of my greatest weaknesses.  I have four kids and a crazy schedule.

But Philemon wasn’t refreshing the hearts of others with an international ministry or a multi-step program.  It wasn’t a full-time job or a massive undertaking.

What he was doing wasn’t complex or time-consuming.

It was so simple:  Love Jesus.  Love others.  Share your faith.

Make the phone call.  Write the note.  Bake the cookies.   Set a time to get together.  Listen well. Pray hard.  Send a text.

Show love.

 

Jon Bloom wrote over at Desiring God:

Oh the precious, priceless ministry of refreshment. And oh how desperately needed it is. All around us are weary brothers and sisters who are slogging it out in a spiritual war (Ephesians 6:12) on a battlefield of a futile world (Romans 8:20).

Here’s the beautiful promise of  God for those who choose to be “refreshers:”

“whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25b)

None of us can be “refreshers” all the time.  We need refreshing.

We need others to bless and encourage us.  To jump in with some help when we’re weary.

And we don’t need to be afraid or ashamed to send out an SOS when we’re the ones who need refreshing.

We all feel the weariness sometimes.  We’ve carried that weight of discouragement before, or sorrow, or worry and fear.

Paul knew  that when he needed help he could ask for it.

When Paul requested mercy for the runaway slave, Onesimus, Paul asks Philemon once again to:

 Refresh my heart in Christ (verse 29).

We can’t always be refreshers—sometimes we need to be refreshed.

And when we’re refreshed, we’ll grow stale unless we in turn refresh others.  We give and we receive; we love and are loved; we refresh and are refreshed.

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