Tag: run-away slave
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 won to the Lord under Paul’s ministry as well. (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 as he returned to His owner 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! In His amazing love, He gave us the ministry of reconciliation! (2nd Corinthians 5:21)
Scripture reading for December 10th: Philemon
This short personal letter from Paul to Philemon concerns a run-away slave who got saved under Paul’s ministry in Rome. This slave could easily have been sentenced to death if he had been caught, but God was working something else out in his life. He heard the Gospel message from Paul and gave his life to Jesus Christ. Paul was writing his master, Philemon, to appeal to him to take him back and receive him as a brother in the Lord. Philemon was a believer in a church that Paul had planted and Paul had evidently been his spiritual father. This simple letter reveals the heart of forgiveness we must have toward others as they repent and come into the kingdom.
“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.” (Philemon 6-7) Paul’s prayer for Philemon is an encouragement for us to share our faith. As we learn to give away what we have received from the Lord, we get back a more complete understanding of all that is ours in Christ. Giving by sharing brings blessings of deeper understanding and causes joy in pastoral leadership!
Paul gently appeals to Philemon to take Onesimus, his converted slave, back and restore him. (Philemon 8-10) Paul states that Onesimus was formerly useless to him. Before salvation, he was in bondage to self and sin and could not be loyal and serve him properly. Now, as a brother in the Lord, Onesimus was useful to the kingdom and to Philemon! This is an added blessing of sharing your faith! Others come into their full purpose and become brothers and sisters in the family of God!
Love isn’t love unless it is freely given. Forgiveness isn’t real if it is not also freely given. We can’t command that another love us or love God. When we appeal to another person to do what is right, then they can more easily choose to freely give. Paul’s letter is a great example of a godly appeal to someone in authority to do what is right. May the Lord grant us grace today to love and forgive freely according to the example of Jesus Christ!