Yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. ~Philemon 1:9
The book of Philemon is just one chapter. It is named after a Christian man who was a very close friend of the Apostle Paul. His name means “one who kisses” or “affectionate.” Philemon loved the Lord, his family, the members of his church, and the Apostle Paul. Paul wrote this letter as an appeal to Philemon about something that needed to be addressed in Philemon’s life. What Paul wanted him to do was a very powerful act of love. This morning, let us examine what we will do for love’s sake.
We see a refreshing.
“For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.” Philemon was a great encourager to everyone. He had a good reputation for his love and faith “which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints.” He and his wife Apphia enabled the church to meet in their house. I imagine that the fellowship that the believers in that church had was enjoyable, encouraging, and exceptional. Philemon is an example to us of seeking to encourage others by our actions, testimony, and words.
We see a rift.
Philemon had a slave who ran away from him. Under the law, a runaway slave could be put to death. The name of this slave was Onesimus. Even though Paul does not allude to it, Philemon was saddened and probably had a sore spot in his heart that Onesimus had run away from him. When someone hurts you badly, the tendency of our nature is to reject that person. We battle with a spirit of bitterness and unforgiveness towards him. In many cases, we will write that person off and want nothing to do with him. By the same token, Onesimus knew that what he did was wrong and that there would be serious consequences if he was found and brought back to Philemon.
We see the remedy.
Of all things, Onesimus makes his way to the place where Paul is imprisoned. Paul leads Onesimus to Christ and disciples him. In the course of things, Paul discovers that Onesimus was Philemon’s slave! Both men are Paul’s good friends. Paul tells Onesimus that the right thing to do is to return to Philemon. Paul writes the letter to Philemon explaining that Onesimus got saved under Paul and is being discipled by him. Paul lovingly exhorts Philemon to receive Onesimus back, not as a slave but as a brother. Paul wanted Onesimus to stay with him, but when he realized who he was, he knew that the most important thing for him to do was to get the two men reunited.
We see the resolution.
Paul knew that what he was asking Philemon to do was very hard. So, he exhorts him to receive Onesimus as a brother. He basically said, "Receive him back as you would receive me." Furthermore, Paul said of whatever Onesimus owed Philemon, “Put that on mine account.” In making that statement, Paul gave a beautiful illustration of the doctrine of imputation. Paul said that he would repay to Philemon whatever he felt was due him. Then, Paul essentially said, "I have confidence in you that you will do more than what I am asking you to do." Paul was living out Matthew 5:9 by being a peacemaker. Onesimus was tested and found faithful by refreshing Paul by his acceptance and forgiveness of Philemon. Philemon and Onesimus resolved “for love’s sake” to be restored in love and fellowship. How far will you go for love’s sake?
Have an agape God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Isaiah 23-27