Saturday, 23 November 2019
Philemon 1: 1-25
“And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ.” – Philemon 1:6 [NLT]
GOD’s love and forgiveness received and enjoyed has a ripple effect! Paul received God’s grace and mercy, shared it to the runaway slave- Onesimus, by which he was saved and now he asks Onesimus’ master, Philemon to reciprocate the same to his servant! That’s the touching message of a very personal letter by Paul to Philemon.
Onesimus whose name meant “useful” had been nothing less than “useless” to Philemon when he had done him wrong and run away to Rome. But God’s mercy had pursed this man who came in touch with Paul who had led him to the Lord. Paul hence calls him “son” being his spiritual father and is just eager to send Onesimus- now a transformed man- back to his master. Paul’s appeal to Philemon to forgive his wrongs and show him acts of kindness is based on what our key verse states: “…that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ.
What “good things” come from faith that Paul, Onesimus, Philemon and each of us believers-have experienced in Christ that we are called to put into action? Surely, we have received and experienced:
His mercy- “…God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions…” (Eph.2:4-5). We deserved only God’s wrath because of our sin and rebellion against Him but His rich mercy was shown to us that He didn’t destine us to the hell we deserved. He showed us His mercy through His Son Jesus Christ! How much more we need to show mercy to our fellow brethren- those we feel have wronged us!
His forgiveness- “In him we have ….the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace…” (Eph.1:7). When there was no way to get rid of the guilt of our sin, Jesus stepped in our place and took all our sin on Himself so that we would stand forgiven before God! His blood has taken away the stain of sin in our lives and today we enjoy the freedom of forgiveness. Is it then too hard to forgive an erring brother/sister? Jesus taught us to forgive others so we will be forgiven!
His love- What was the extent of God’s love for us? GOD so loved the world that He gave His only Son so we wouldn’t perish in our sin (John 3:16); He did not spare His Son but gave Him up…Romans 8:32). 1 John 3:16 NLT “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.” We too are called to demonstrate such love which is giving….sometimes laying down our preferences/prejudices…so that we can win a brother!
His acceptance- Eph. 1:6 says, “…to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” His acceptance of us wasn’t based on any merit of our own but because of His goodness and grace! When we didn’t know God, we were aliens from God’s people but through Christ, He has reconciled the irreconcilable, making us accepted in Him! How difficult is it for us to accept people different from us- culturally, socially, economically… the barriers we make are many! We need to remind ourselves of how privileged we are in Christ and show that acceptance to other brethren in God’s family!
Philemon was called to forgive and accept Onesimus because of the mercy, forgiveness, love and acceptance he had received from the LORD! Finding it hard to forgive? Nothing earned you God’s love and forgiveness…it’s for giving! If you are a runaway from God… run back to God’s love and mercy which is available just the same way it was when Onesimus returned!
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Eph.4:32)
Listen- ‘Here I am’
*Reference : ‘Unlocking the Bible’: Philemon ~David Pawson
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