We have a short letter preserved in the canon of Scripture which Paul wrote to a fellow gospel worker named Philemon. Paul mainly writes to ask Philemon to release a man named Onesimus from his service, so Onesimus can minister to Paul. Paul opens the letter, as he often does, with a prayer:
“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and 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.” Philemon 1:4-6
Philemon is apparently a faithful Christian, and Paul has heard the testimony of his love and faith both toward Jesus and all the saints. In this light, Paul’s prayer for Philemon is that the “sharing of your faith may become effective.” Now, when we hear ‘sharing your faith’ we immediately think of telling someone about Jesus. While this is part of it, the phrase goes much deeper and could also be translated as “participation in the faith” (CSB) or “partnership with us in the faith” (NIV).
In the opening address, Paul addresses Philemon as a “fellow worker.” As one who stands in partnership with Paul, participating in the work of the faith, he wants Philemon to be effective “for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.” True effectiveness brings increased knowledge of every good thing Jesus has done in our lives – for us and for those we minister to.
This means we should pray not just for the desire to serve God, not just the ability to serve God, but to be effective in serving God. To be effective means you fulfill your calling in the Lord. You see results. You fully accomplish the purpose God has set for you. You are a fruitful gospel worker!
An effective mother sees her children growing up in the Lord. An effective husband sees his family setting their eyes on Christ. An effective worker finds favor and sees God honored in the workplace. An effective ministry volunteer sees people strengthened in their faith. An effective friend sees neighbors coming to Christ.
God, make us effective by your power! We pray that you would make us fruitful in every area of life, that we might “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9).