Gaining a New Brother
Thank the Lord for how he creates a family through the Spirit and enables us to love and accept one another.
Read Philemon 1:8-25
 Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do,  yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul-an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus-  that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains.  Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.  I am sending him-who is my very heart-back to you.  I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel.  But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary.  Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever-  no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.  So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.  If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.  I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back-not to mention that you owe me your very self.  I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.  Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.  And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.  Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings.  And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat does Paul ask of Philemon?
Onesimus is a slave owned by Philemon, probably not a very good slave (11) who has possibly robbed Philemon (18) and has certainly run away from him. Under Roman law, Philemon would be justified in putting Onesimus to death. But all the people in this story are now Christians. Onesimus has somehow ended up with Paul and is now his dear brother in Christ (16). That means he is also Philemon’s brother in Christ. Paul doesn’t downplay the fact that Onesimus is still Philemon’s slave, but he points out that another, better relationship now exists. Paul doesn’t insist on Onesimus’s acceptance back into the household, but obviously he hopes that Philemon will receive Onesimus with forgiveness. I wonder how Onesimus is feeling on his way back to deliver this letter to his owner, who is now also his brother in the Lord. Paul writes of Philemon’s “love for all [God’s] holy people” (5), so it might be expected that he will be able to forgive and welcome Onesimus back. But Onesimus doesn’t know that. What will happen?
Look back at Colossians 3:13. What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?
Ask God to help you with any situation where forgiveness is the way forward but grievances still rankle.
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