“I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” — Philemon 6
When we think about evangelism, our tendency is to focus on the immeasurable riches of God’s grace that others are blessed to receive through us. Given the definition of evangelism, this is actually quite reasonable.
But Paul’s passing exhortation in his letter to Philemon points to the reward a believer may enjoy when he shares the gospel as he ought. To be sure, there is a certain exhilaration that comes from advancing God’s kingdom as “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). But Paul identifies another consequence to sharing one’s faith–namely, enhancing one’s understanding of the joys we have in Christ.
When we engage in thoughtful conversation about the Word of truth and life, we are obliged as a matter of course to consider more carefully what it says. We search for an effective way to communicate the Savior’s love for others and their need for Him. In the process of seeking this new wisdom, we become like a teacher who discovers–to his utter amazement and delight–an unexplored vein of knowledge in the subject he loves and yearns to master. With a odd blend of giddiness and solemnity, we hold a candle at arm’s length and step further into a darkened room with bated breath. We find ourselves deeper … perhaps just a bit deeper … inside the holy of holies and see more clearly the manifold pleasures of God. In sharing our faith, we come closer to grasping “a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” The curtain has been pulled back for us even further. Through teaching and sharing, we ourselves learn deeper, more wonderful truths.