Lamentations 1:1-2:19; Philemon 1:1-25; Psalm 101:1-8; Proverbs 26:20
“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…Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold…yet I appeal to you on the basis of love.” Philemon 1:6,9″
A slave named Onesimus leaves his master, Philemon, and ends up by the side of a prisoner chained to a Roman guard. And not just any prisoner, but the Apostle Paul, a ‘prisoner of Christ Jesus.’
Did Onesimus overhear what Paul preached–freedom for all people? Did he want to hear more? To be free?
His yearning was strong enough to bolt him from his master’s house and take him to the man in chains.
Rather ironic. But as the chained man spoke of the freedom everyone can have through faith in Jesus, the slave man’s bonds, the chains of sin and guilt and shame, broke. Onesimus, a man on the run, was set free!
Onesimus risked all and received all through faith in Jesus Christ.
And now Paul wants to return an even more useful Onesimus–one whose life is driven by love for the same Savior that Paul and Philemon worship and adore.
Even though Philemon had every right to punish his slave for leaving, Paul’s appeal to love paves the way for an unusual reunion.
We don’t get to hear the end of the story, but as Paul trusted Philemon to do the Christ-like thing, we too trust that Onesimus received a grace-filled welcome and that he was a great help to his masters–his earthly master, Philemon and his Heavenly Master, Christ Jesus for the rest of his days.
Lord God, thank you for this story of Onesimus and Philemon which shows us the power of the Gospel at work in the lives of these believers. Thank you for the faithful preaching of your Word which moved Onesimus’s heart and made him a new man by faith. Thank you for Paul’s appeal “on the basis of love” to his friend, Philemon, who had felt the loss of his ‘property’, his slave, but received an opportunity to take not just ‘property’ back, but a brother in the Lord. Thank you that by faith and through love, relationships can be restored. Above all, thank you for Jesus, who on the basis of love, gave His life for us who were slaves to sin; who set us free from the bonds of sin and death and gave us new life. I pray that our faith can be active in living out this amazing grace and by doing so, give others hope for reconciliation not only with You but with others. Heal and restore broken relationships, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.