Our apostle having discovered to Philemon his fervent prayers for him, next makes mention of the excellent graces which were so orient and shining in him, namely, his faith and his love; his faith in Christ produced love to him and all his saints, not to a party of Christians only: Hearing of thy love and faith towards the Lord Jesus, and in him towards all the saints. The saints are to be loved next to Christ, and in and for Christ.
Observe next, St. Paul prays that Philemon's faith and love might be made manifest to be effectual for producing all sorts of good fruits in him and by him: That the communication of thy faith may become effectual.
Observe lastly, the great joy and consolation which the apostle had in the operativeness of Philemon's faith and love, whereby the bowels of the saints were greatly refreshed.
Learn hence, That administering to the necessities of the saints, and relieving the bowels of the distressed members of Jesus Christ, is a blessed evidence of the sincerity of our love to Christ and Christians.
There is a frozen charity and a lip-love found among many professors, whom Christ will disown at the great day; but such as by office of kindness, performed with a tender and pitiful heart, do refresh the bowels of the saints, Christ reckons it as done unto himself, whatever is done to those his suffering members, Mat_25:40 and God himself is thereby refreshed, An odour of sweet smell, and a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. Php_4:18
Note lastly, What the condition of the holiest and best of God's servants in the world has been, is, and may be; namely, such, that their bowels may stand in need of refreshing, whilst the wicked are fat, fresh, and flourishing; but blessed be God, if his children miss of refreshment from men, their time of refreshing will come from the presence of the Lord.