“I feel it in my gut,” is a phrase that gets metaphorically tossed around, and might mean that someone knows something “in my head” or “in my heart” that is true. The writer of Philemon, Paul, also used the body as a metaphor several times in the Bible.
Philemon 1:7 in the English Standard Version reads, “For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” I wanted to study it more so I headed over to BlueLetterBible.com to take a look.
I was more than a little surprised to see that “the hearts of the saints have been refreshed” might be more literally translated “the bowels of the saints are refreshed”! Thayer’s Greek Lexicon explains that the Greek word for bowels, splagchnon, was used in New Testament culture “by the Hebrews as the seat of the tenderer affections, especially kindness, benevolence, compassion.” It’s not how most of us would say things nowadays, and it is a word picture I will not be forgetting anytime soon!
While we don’t literally refresh people’s hearts (or bowels!), we can refresh them our fellow Christians like Philemon did by:
- Love. As Paul writes to Philemon, he talks about love. “I hear about your love for all his holy people…” (v. 5 NIV) Philemon loved these people and wanted the very best thing for them – a relationship with Jesus Christ! The peace we find in Christ is the true refreshment we seek.
- Support. “I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.” (v. 6 NIV) Paul and Philemon were working towards the common goal of serving Christ and sharing the good news about Him. Philemon was learning more about Christ by working together with Paul.
- Encouragement. Encouragement is a part of love, to refresh the weary soul to keep going. Don’t neglect the power of a heartfelt encouraging word or action! “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.” (v. 7 NIV)
Lord, help me to love others today, and to encourage them! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.