And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ.(New Living Translation).

Looking around at different translations of verse 6, I get the impression that there are alternate ways of expressing what Paul is writing here. I’m quoting from the NLT because I think it quite succinctly expresses the heart of his letter. While acknowledging and affirming all that Philemon so lovingly does out of the overflow of his faith, he has a big ask of him regarding the runaway slave Onesimus. There is in this letter both the request, and the expectation, that Philemon will show great generosity of heart towards his former servant.

At the back of all of this there lies an understanding that theology is to be lived; truth is to be embodied. The more we understand who we are and what we have in Christ, the more this should affect our behaviour.

Paul calls for the Word in action.

How we treat people matters. Let’s tenaciously hold on to this. We can’t get away with saying we love God if we don’t love our brother (or sister) – even the one who has wronged us.

‘That’s the thing about faith. It works.’ Lauren Oliver.