15. Perhaps this is the reason he was
separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back
forever, 16. no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a
beloved brother—especially to me but how much more to you, both in
the flesh and in the Lord.
In this brief letter
written by Paul during his Roman imprisonment, he pleads to
Philemon for Onesimus, a slave that escaped Philemon’s home and
served Paul during his house arrest. We can see how skillfully Paul
made his appeal out of love and made it an opportunity for Philemon
to do what is right and accept Onesimus, as a fellow man and
brother in Christ. Philemon also accepted Christ through Paul,
therefore he had a strong enough brotherly relationship where he
could have demanded of Philemon to accept Onesimus as a brother but
he did not cross that boundary. He reasons with Philemon as he
wants him to voluntarily choose, but highlights the usefulness of
Onesimus by changing his title from slave to brother.
The name Onesimus means “useful and
profitable”. Paul claims that in Christ the useless person has been
made useful but being reborn in Christ, does not end our
responsibility to make restitution; it increases our obligation,
even when restitution is difficult.
In our lives we have
often come to a crossroad where we have been challenged, as
Philemon was here, and asked to step up to help someone or
understand a person’s struggle and to be their support. We
have been in positions where we have had to choose to be better men
and women and do the right thing.
We have all fallen
short of the glory of God, but God respected our boundaries and
allowed us to learn from our sins and mistakes and also gave us a
second chance to rise up and be honest. He respects our boundaries
and wants a relationship with us that is deeply honest about
everything - without us fearing the abandonment and
retaliation we've experienced in other relationships when we have
bared our souls. Do you feel free to share your
disappointment with God, your confusion, and even your anger?
What do you think would happen if you were completely honest with
God about your darkest sins and most hidden convictions?
Hasn’t God forgiven and accepted us as his child?
In our community, we
rarely admit our wrongs, make amends, and accept others through
forgiveness. We need to practice reconciliation and accept others
who may have wronged us or seek forgiveness from those whom we have
hurt. To practice what we preach, we must not sit on the throne of
judgment, but look back into our lives and see that we too have
been forgiven by a merciful judge. In our places of worship, do we
provide a safe space for those who have fallen short or are we
sitting on thrones of righteousness and judging others.
God, give us the courage
and obedience to follow you and to do your acts of kindness.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
“What love we’ve given, we’ll
have forever. What love we fail to give, will be lost for all
eternity.” – Leo Buscaglia
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