Step foot into any church nursery or onto any daycare playground and you’ll almost certainly find a child who is reluctant to share. One of the reasons this is the case is because children typically understand sharing to mean less for themselves – less time with a specific toy, less turns with the basketball, or less crackers during lunch.
When Paul mentions a kind of sharing in the book of Philemon, though, the result is an increase, not a reduction. In verse 6 he writes, “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.”
“The sharing of your faith” in this context means more than telling nonbelievers about Jesus, although it’s important to share that message with those who haven’t heard it. Here Paul is addressing relationships between believers, and the word for sharing carries the connotation of partnership and fellowship. His point is that as you and I participate in the life of faith by talking about what God has done for us, investing in the spiritual lives of others, serving the Church, and joining in His mission, our understanding of all that Christ has done for us increases.
By talking about what God has done for us, we experience a heightened awareness of who He is and the blessings He offers.
By investing in the spiritual lives of others, we gain a deeper appreciation of God’s resolve to complete the good work He began (Philippians 1:6).
By serving the Church, we develop a fuller realization of God’s grace as He works in, through, and among such broken people.
By joining in God’s mission, we acquire an enlarged view of His glory and cultivate an eternal perspective.
This is not an exhaustive list of all that sharing our faith entails, but these are a few components that came to mind immediately. As these observations demonstrate, sharing our faith is one of the primary means God uses to grow and refine our knowledge of Him.
When a child understands sharing as meaning less for himself, he fails to see how sharing actually paves the way for more – more people can enjoy a specific toy, a basketball, or crackers. In the same way, sharing our faith means more, not just for others, but also for ourselves. As we expose our hearts, spur on others to love and obey God, contribute to the wellbeing of the Church, and make disciples of all nations, our knowledge and enjoyment of all that Christ purchased for us will grow.
As we approach Easter – the day upon which our entire faith rests (1 Corinthians 15:12-19) – why not dive headfirst into gospel-inspired partnership and fellowship? By pouring out for the good of others and the glory of God, you’ll end up with more, not less.