Jump Start # 3464
Philemon 21 “Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say.”
The little letter of Philemon is rich in big lessons. What a challenge this book presented to the first century world. A run-a-way slave, who becomes a Christian is sent back to his master. Social pressures were huge. All eyes would be on Philemon, the slave owner, to see what he would do. His example would set the tone for other Christian masters and other slaves. Would the slave be beaten? Would Philemon make an example out of him? Would he forgive? Would he send him away?
Paul’s letter to Philemon, which was delivered by the run-a-way and corresponds with the Colossian letter, outlined what should be done. The apostle was counting on him. As our verse begins, Paul had “confidence in your obedience.”
It is the end of our verse that our attention is drawn to. Here we find, “I know that you will do even more than what I say.” What a powerful proclamation and hope. I know you’ll do more than I ask. Imagine that spirit at home. Imagine it at work. Imagine it in a congregation.
Doing more than what I say, let’s look at that.
First, that attitude and spirit is a culture that disciples ought to strive for and even expect. Just getting by, just doing the minimum won’t produce growth in a person nor in a congregation. Some live by the spirit of the minimum. You’ll see them on a Sunday morning at services, sometimes. You won’t see them on a Wednesday night Bible study. They might even proclaim that “Wednesday Bible study is not commanded in the Bible.” And, because of that, you won’t find them. They’ll be home watching mindless TV.
Going out of the way is another way of expressing, “doing more than what I say.” I know a ton of my preacher friends who live this way. They are writing blogs, producing podcasts, writing special lessons, teaching classes during the week and just busy all the time. No one tells them to do these things. In many places, just teaching Sunday and preaching is all that is expected. But not these guys. They are driven. They have a passion. They will do even more than what is expected. They do this because they love the Lord. They do this because they want the kingdom to grow and grow. Others fly across the planet to third world countries to spend weeks preaching and teaching to young disciples. The places they visit would not be on anyone’s vacation dream list. The work is hard. Very often, these preachers are funding much of these trips out of their own pockets. Why? Because it is in their DNA to do more than what I say.
Second, when someone does more than what is expected, a little praise, encouragement sure goes a long way. It makes that person realize that what he did was noticed and appreciated. Personally, I have a folder that I keep all the emails that have been written to me about these Jump Starts. It’s helpful to know that someone out there is reading these things and somehow it is making a difference in their lives.
There is that guy who shows up at the church house on a Saturday morning to pick up some trash, pull weeds or make the place look nice. No one tells him to do this. Most will never know about this. He does this because he has the spirit of doing more than what is expected.
The encouragement and praise that we give to the kids at home when they have done more than what is expected can set the tone for others. Raising the bar is something that mom and dad need to do as well.
Third, a spirit of excellence takes over when a person stops thinking about himself and focuses upon how he can help others. Doing the best that we can do reflects what God has done for us. God has always given the best. He sent Jesus. He revealed His heart to us. He blesses us more than we deserve. He continues to forgive us.
And, when the spirit of excellence prevails, sloppiness, indifference, and unprepared suddenly disappear. You’ll find song leaders on a Tuesday practicing their songs for Sunday. You’ll see people working on lessons months in advance. The days of “winging it,” picking out songs as one walks to the pulpit, and being so casual in spirit will be a thing of the past. Doing more than what is expected. Doing more than what I say.
As we wrap up this year, let us think about how we each can do “more than what I say.” Think of ways in which we can go out of our way to make things the best. Let’s always bring our best to the Lord.
I am confident that you will do even more than what I say…what a great example for us.