Derrick continues in Philemon focusing on the heart of the letter that “forgiveness is freedom.”
In verses 8-21, Paul appealed to Philemon to free Onesimus. The name Onesimus means “useful” and the name Philemon means “affectionate” or “one who is kind.”
The test for Philemon: If the useless slave could become a useful servant for Christ, could the affectionate master live up to his name and kindly accept the fugitive like a brother?
Paul could have kept Onesimus but he wanted to restore a severed relationship and was trying to persuade Philemon to do the right thing. He wanted Philemon to act out of love.
A relationship with Jesus Christ changes all relationships. Enemies become allies. Christ was willing to die for us to free us from our debt of sin. Paul was willing to pay Onesimus’ financial debt to free him and appealed to Philemon to restore brotherhood in a severed relationship.
The central point of the lesson was:
- God is in the business of transforming the useless into the useful. Give Him room to work.
- God could exert His authority but chooses to appeal. Do what is right out of love.
- God’s grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus forgave your eternal debt. Forgive another their earthly debt.
Has someone wronged you and caused a rupture in your relationship? Are you willing to forgive them?
We have been forgiven much — all of us have been wronged. For the sake of the gospel, for the sake of Christ — give others their freedom. It will free you too.
(Material is Copyright © 2010 by Derrick G. Jeter. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.)