Philemon

Daily Devotional

Average reading time is about 3 minutes

December 28

“Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved friend and fellow labourer” (Philemon 1:1).

Sue Norton’s hands shook as she hung up the phone. Her brother had just informed her that her elderly father, along with his wife, had been murdered inside their farmhouse.

At the trial, Sue’s feelings were confused. The room was full of intense hatred for the murderer, yet hatred didn’t feel right to Sue. On the last night before the conclusion of the trial, Sue prayed for help and was impressed to pursue forgiveness. The next day she went to visit the man who had so cruelly taken her father’s life. Suspicious and ashamed, the man at first would not even look at her. But over time they became friends, which eventually led to his becoming a Christian. Sue acknowledged

that she couldn’t have forgiven the man who had caused her so much heartache without the grace of God in her life.

It is that same grace that appealed to Philemon as he received a letter from the apostle Paul from the hands of his returned slave Onesimus. Philemon was a leader in the Colossian church. Sometime earlier, his servant Onesimus had stolen from him and had run away. Philemon had understandably been very angry at Onesimus, but his attitude softened as he read Paul’s words.

As he absorbed the letter, Philemon realized that Onesimus was no longer simply his servant; during his absence Onesimus had been converted from paganism and was now a devout brother in Christ. Paul was appealing to him to receive Onesimus as a son and to forgive him any wrong. Paul even offered to pay whatever he owed to Philemon.

But Paul’s request went further. He wanted Philemon to release Onesimus and allow him to serve in evangelistic work alongside Paul. There is reason to believe that Philemon granted his requests.

Forgiving means being like Christ. As Philemon read the words—“If he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account” (Philemon 1:18)—his heart must have melted, for that is exactly what Jesus has done for each one of us.

Dear Father, thank You for forgiving me of so much! Give me the grace to forgive others in return.

 

 

Key Bible Texts

For Further Study: Philemon 1:1–21; Matthew 6:14, 15; Luke 6:37

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