For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. Philemon 7 ESV
When we think of great leaders, there are few who compare with Alexander the Great. He became King of the small nation of Macedon at the age of 20, after the assassination of his father. At first Alexander simply consolidated power in the region of modern-day Greece. But what happened next was truly amazing. In just 12 short years Alexander went on to conquer all of the middle east, including Turkey, Iran and Iraq, along with Israel, Syria and Egypt. When at the age of thirty-two Alexander died, he left an incredible legacy of military conquest though his kingdom was soon divided between his generals.
Philemon on the other hand was a different kind of leader. Though Paul begins his letter mentioning that a church is meeting at Philemon’s house, the New Testament says very little about his position. In fact, when Paul writes to the Colossian church he does not even mention Philemon. What we do know about is Philemon’s love. Paul begins his letter by calling Philemon beloved, and then goes on to say he thanks God in his prayers because of the reports he has heard about Philemon’s love. Then we come to today’s verse and Paul tells his friend that he is comforted and joyful because of his love. While Alexander was great because of battles, Philemon was great because he refreshed the hearts of others when he shared the love of Christ. Philemon’s legacy is not the cities named after him or the statues carved in his honor, but his love for others. What greater legacy could anyone leave than that?