Faith and forgiveness!
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. 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 causes joy in pastoral leadership!
Paul gently appeals to Philemon to restore his converted slave. (Philemon 8-10) Paul stated that Onesimus was formerly useless to him. Before salvation, he was in bondage to 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 order forgiveness. 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!