A live in worker, you employed, has left your home abruptly while you were away. Upon leaving your home, this worker, took money from your wallet and other valuables from your household. You arrive home to this discovery. The emotions you go through are: anger, hurt, broken trust, betrayal, and sorrow. You make a vow to yourself, “If I ever see this person again; I am going to________!”
Time passes then all of a sudden a letter arrives in your mailbox. The letter is from a minister of Christ. Oh, how you love and respect this minister. This particular minister is the one who introduced you to Christ. As you read the letter you discover that while your employee was living on the street he crossed paths with this minister. And the minister took this young man in introduced him to Christ. From that introduction he was ultimately saved by Christ. A deeper look into this letter reveals that after your employee’s conversion, he stayed with the minister you love and respect. He served this minister and others faithfully. Serving and loving them with the Spirit of Christ.
Although the minister would love to have this young man stay with him, and help him, to further the Gospel. The minister realizes that the young man is your employee, and he realizes that even though this young man has repented, been redeemed, and restored by Christ. He hadn’t sought forgiveness and been reconciled unto the former employer he had wronged. This seasoned minister understands the importance of seeking forgiveness from those that we have wronged. The minister discerned that this young man was afraid. This young man was sure you would put him in prison. He was sure you would have nothing ever to do with him. Of the young man’s biggest concern was the thought that he wouldn’t be forgiven; nor get the chance to become a Christian Brother with you in your household. Something he cherished most of all.
Feeling nothing but love for this young Christian man, and desiring only that the two of you become reconciled to one another; he continues the letter on this young man’s behalf. The seasoned minister pours his own heart out to you in defense of his young Christian Brother.
I, Paul, an old man now and also a prisoner for Christ Jesus, I am pleading with you for my child Onesimus,who became my child while I was in prison.
In the past he was useless to you, but now he has become useful for both you and me.
I am sending him back to you, and with him I am sending my own heart. (Paul sees a Christian Brother; not a converted thief) How do you see him?
I wanted to keep him with me so that in your place he might help me while I am in prison for the Good News.
I did not want to do anything without asking you first so that any good you do for me will be because you want to do it, not because I forced you. (Paul desires authentic love and forgiveness).
Maybe Onesimus was separated from you for a short time so you could have him back forever. (God’s plan all along)
Accept him back no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a loved brother.
I love him very much, but you will love him even more, both as a person and as a believer in the Lord.
So if you consider me your partner, welcome Onesimus as you would welcome me.
At this point the minister discerned you would have a few questions. You asked yourself “He wronged me, and stole from me. Why would I forgive him and accept him as a brother? The minister was hoping you would realize how he introduced you to Christ. And what Christ freely did for you.
He says, “If he has done anything wrong to you or if he owes you anything, charge that to me. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back, and I will say nothing about what you owe me for your own life.” (Paul will pay Onesimus’ debt, because Jesus paid His debt in full. He hopes you will see the same.)
You soften as you read this. But then you remember your initial vow: “If I ever see this person again; I am going to________!”
The seasoned minister knows you are contemplating this thought. So he implores you further, “So, my brother, I ask that you do this for me in the Lord: Refresh my heart in Christ. I write this letter, knowing that you will do what I ask you and even more.”
At the completion of the beloved minister’s letter, and after knowing what this minister has done for you, and after knowing what Christ has freely done for you. You again, contemplate your vow “If I ever see this person again; I am going to________!”
You are Philemon: What do you do? Knowing what you now know; how do you fill in the blank?