I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. 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. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because, you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul – an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus – I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly, he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
Perfect Love and Grace in Action
To set the stage of this short book, Philemon is a Christian, a slave holder and a dear friend of Paul. Onesimus is his slave who runs away from his master. On Onesimus’s journey to freedom, he encounters Paul who brings Onesimus to the knowledge and salvation of Jesus Christ. Paul convinces Onesimus that he must return to Philemon and he sends a hand-written letter with Onesimus with a personal message for Philemon.
Do you see grace in action?
Do you see the redemptive work of Jesus here in these verses?
Paul is displaying Jesus Christ in his actions and words. This is what each of us should aspire to do – to become more like Christ. Paul tells us that our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). How do we do this? There are some keys shown to us in this very small book of Philemon.
Do it out of love.
First of all, in Philemon verse 9, we are shown how Paul had the right to forcefully demand Philemon to do the right thing; however, he chose to appeal to Philemon out of his great love for him.
Second, in Philemon verse 11, Paul points out to Philemon that Onesimus is now a new person! And here is the grace in action. We can choose to continue to see the “old” in a person. Or we can choose to see the “new” and forget the old.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
In Philemon verse 15, we see that God truly does work for the good in all situations for those who love him (Romans 8:28) because Paul says that perhaps the separation time when Onesimus ran away was for the best. And it brought eternal salvation to a soul that was lost!
The separation set a person free.
Finally, one last thing I want to bring out of this book is that as we share our faith, we will gain a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.
As we step out in faith and witness to others, we will:
- gain His understanding
So let’s step out and see what He does.
Let’s do it out of love. I’ll use Paul’s parting words, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
Stay in the Light and the Love always,