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 1:7
The comfort of love rests on the evidence of service. Love is comforting only if we know it is real. In an age when we hear the word “love” bandied about with glib facility, only evidence makes us certain. We know God loves us because he sent his Son to die for us and to show us how to live by faith. Jesus knows we love him if we obey his commandments. Paul was certain of Philemon’s love because Philemon worked on behalf of the disciples in his fellowship. We can be comforted as we perceive love in the name of Christ too. The comfort of love grows from the context of its expression. If Paul had seen Philemon care for the business needs of other merchants, he would have appreciated it, but not felt particularly comforted by it. Jesus taught that those who cared for people who were related to him—even the least of them—demonstrated their love for him. Paul believed this. Therefore he drew comfort from Philemon’s love for other Christians, for Paul knew that such love grew out of his confidence in Christ, whom Paul also loved. We too can be confident of comfort in our ministries because of the love we see others expressing as they serve the Body of Christ.
Two requests, O Lord: give me friends like Philemon to comfort me with their proven love; and enable me to love the saints so genuinely, that my friends are comforted in my love.