“I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart” (Philemon 1:12).

There are very few parts of the body as important as the heart. When physicians realized the time it would take to find a heart transplant for their patient Stan Larkin, they decided to hook him up to a mechanical heart. Although Larkin had lived with a genetic heart disorder up to this point, he now needed to depend upon a machine that was partially stored in his backpack.

Although giving him extra weight on his back, the device served as a natural heart and even allowed him to play basketball. It sustained Larkin’s life for 555 days, after which he received a human heart.

Onesimus means “useful” or “beneficial” in Greek. But the slave who had this name did not always live up to it. Paul reported that Onesimus was once an unprofitable slave (Philemon 1:11). However, a transformation took place in Onesimus after he was born again into a living faith in Christ through the preaching of the apostle (verse 10). This meant that he was now a highly beneficial slave of Christ.

His transformation was so dramatic that Paul wished that he could keep Onesimus around to help him cope with his imprisonment (verse 13). However, he decided to send him back to his former slave owner, Philemon, who had also become a Christian. In sending him back, however, Paul made sure to appeal to Philemon to treat Onesimus as a brother. In his appeal Paul showed how greatly he had become attached to Onesimus and how important it was for him that he be treated as a free man. In order to convey these sentiments, it appears that Paul was asking Philemon to treat Onesimus as he would treat Paul himself, calling Onesimus “my own heart” (verse 12).

Father, please help me to be beneficial to You and Your people as I do Your work.

For Further Study: Philemon 1:8–21; 1 Tim. 4:8; 2 Tim. 2:20, 21

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