Restoring a brother!
Scripture reading for October 29th: Philemon 1:1-25
Paul won a run-away slave, Onesimus, to faith in the Lord Jesus. He also knew this slave’s master, Philemon, who was a brother in the Lord and possibly been also won to the Lord under Paul’s ministry. (Philemon 1:19) Paul was in prison during this time. It is possible that they were in jail together and God used Paul to present the Gospel and then to disciple him. Now this slave was a brother in the Lord and serving Paul. Paul instructed him to return to Philemon and ask for mercy for running away. This short letter to Philemon was penned by Paul to accompany this new brother Onesimus, as he returned in repentance!
” 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 full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” (Philemon 1:4-7) Paul affectionately addressed Philemon as a “dear friend and fellow worker.” He cared about Philemon and prayed for him with a thankful heart. Paul’s pastoral heart shines through in this prayer for his ministry of sharing his faith. Paul prayed that he might be active in sharing his faith in order to have a full understanding of all good things we have in Christ! Perhaps failure to share faith is why many today lack a true understanding of their inheritance!
Paul could have simply commanded Philemon to take Onesimus back and forgive him for running away, but he appealed to him on the basis of love. (Philemon 1:8-10) God had shown mercy to Onesimus while he was away by saving him. Now Onesimus was a brother in the faith and useful to Paul and to Philemon in a different way. God had also shown this mercy to Philemon and to Paul. Since God’s love was shown to us while we were sinners, we must also show this love by forgiveness and restoration.
This story reminds us of God’s love and restoration of us. We were run-away slaves as well. When we heard the Gospel, we returned to our Master. He forgave us and restored us to ‘sonship’, not slavery, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation! (2nd Corinthians 5:21) His great love is amazing!