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Can I be Effective as a Believer?

The christian life is not  meant to be  boring and unproductive. On the contrary, God has hardwired every believer to not only be very effective personally but also productive and fruitful.

Effective Christian living

In fact there is none on earth better suited for success in every aspect of life like the believer in Christ. Seriously!

The Apostle Paul gives us  important keys in understanding  our effectiveness as believers in his prayer for Philemon

That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. (Philemon. 1:6 KJV)

A Subject for Prayer

First, above all things, our effectiveness as believers is a subject of the Apostle’s prayer. God wants you effective in your life and service as a believer. This prayer is simply a translation of the Spirit’s longing for His people. When we do not see results in what we do, frustration and disappointments naturally step in. Ineffectiveness which results in unfruitfulness is not only plaguing  individuals in the secular world but has extended its tentacles to the  believer’s life.

How many of us are contented with our christian life? How many of us are contented with our christian service to God? Are these subtle symptoms of  ineffectiveness or  unfruitfulness?

The Apostle makes the believer’s effectiveness a subject of his prayer to God. Like the rest of his prayers contained in his epistles, the content of the prayer is in stark contrast to the general prayer topics of Christendom. If you doubt it, take a brief survey of Paul’s prayers, which are really the Spirit praying through him for His people,  in all his epistles and compare it to our regular prayer  topics both individually and collectively as a body. It will not take long before you realize that even in prayer, we are missing it many times.

God wants you effective as a believer. And He wants it to be part of our prayer not only for others but for ourselves.

The Communication of thy Faith

The Apostle connects our effectiveness to the “communication of our faith” in the scripture above. The original word translated “communication” is  the Greek word koinonia.  The phrase “communication of your faith” has presented significant  challenges to both translation and interpretation which we will not enlist here. However, after a personal study, I  will take koinonia as used here to  mean the   participation or partaking of Philemon’s faith. His faith is sharing in the benefits of  the work of Christ.

Faith makes us partakers

When we believe, our faith causes us to share in everything Christ’s  purchased  through the cross.

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (Hebrews. 3:14 KJV)

By faith, we share in His sonship, and the glory that followed the cross.  By believing, we possess what He worked for.

 Our faith is both personal and collective

The communication of “your faith”. Philemon’s  faith is not a distinct faith but  the faith Note that the sharing or partaking is not as though a piece of  the pie from the whole is given to us.

The “your faith” is his part of “our faith” ( 1 John 5:4), the common faith( Titus 1:4), the like precious faith( 2 Peter1:1). We all share in this faith. And this faith, is not generic faith as merely believing in God, but is “the faith” which is faith solely  and absolutely dependent on Christ.

And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. (Acts 3:16 KJV)

Our faith, or the faith that is in Christ is faith that receives from God solely because Christ paid for it. It has no existence outside of the finished work of Christ.The faith partakes in the benefits of Christ. By it, we share in the work of Christ and the glory that results from it. What we share is essentially the same thing, not different parts of the same thing. It is the same faith working in you as “your faith” as well as in the entire body of Christ as “our faith”.

Your faith describes your experience of the faith which is colored by specifics relating to you. We will have different results from the common faith, which  in itself is the same for all, because that same faith works in us individually in different degrees based on what we allow. The same faith will be dead in one but vibrant in another, not because it is different, but because we are different and open up differently to its working.

Becoming effective

Philemon who is the recipient of this letter was a fruitful believer as noted in verse 5.

Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; (Philemon. 1:5 KJV)

He was a believer with impact. With results, from his faith.

However the Apostle prayed that  the communication of his faith in the benefits of Christ will become effective.  This  is not to imply he was ineffective as a believer, because the context shows the contrary. This is similar to Paul’s command to Timothy to fan to flame his gift in 2 Timothy 1:6. There is no indication that Timothy had grown cold, but rather it was an exhortation to continue and  increase.

In fact the very actions of Philemon show us part of what christian effectiveness is.

Effective communication of faith will produce results

Effectiveness in English is essentially  the measure to which something can produce the intended or desired results. If our faith causes us to partake in the life of Christ, then we should produce His life as we live if we are effective. Christlikeness is the result of effective communication of our faith.

God’s design is that by faith we will partake in the life of Christ and this partaking or communicating will produce an outward reproduction of the life of Christ. Therefore there is an expected result of the communication of our faith. We see some of this in the life of Philemon,

For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother. (Philemon. 1:7 KJV)

His faith in Christ resulted in love for the brethren, the epitome of Christlikeness. God wants us to live productive fruitful lives, not only in Church but in every aspect of our  lives including relationships, finances, careers or even personally.

Communication of faith can be ineffective

It comes naturally, that when the communication of our faith is not effective, it is ineffective. Ineffective   partaking in the faith is sharing  in Christ without outward results or possibly very limited  results.  Picture for a moment a man in the ocean who is struggling hard to get to shore with obvious long-range movements of all his extremities but who remains in the same spot. He is active, but ineffective. Christian effectiveness is not activity. In fact Christendom is replete with spiritual activity. The question is not how active  but how effective. Spiritual activity that leads to desired results is effectiveness. Spiritual activity that is nothing other than being active without results is empty and is a sure path to frustration and burnout.

We may be ineffective  as believers when we get born into the kingdom as babes, or missing our critical aspects  of the faith relating to our productivity or some are just blatantly out of it in outright disobedience to God’s instructions.

Change is feasible

We can shift from ineffective to effective communication of our faith. We can safely imply this from this  our text in study( Philemon 1:6), especially given that the apostle gives us the means of being or also becoming effective.

The translation “become”  as used in the “communication of your faith might become effectual..”  signifies change from one state to another.  We can move from the state of ineffectiveness to the state of effectiveness. This however is not the primary meaning as used in this text for Philemon as noted above, but we can safely imply that to the rest of us. We can become effective. And he tells us how to do so,

That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. (Philemon. 1:6 KJV)

As we begin to have practical workable knowledge of what we have inside of us as believers, that knowledge will translate into the experience of the life of Christ in every  domain of our lives.

For more insight into Philemon 1:6 regarding christian effectiveness, please see these two related posts

  1. Am I effective as a believer?
  2. How to become more effective as a believer

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