NO LONGER A SLAVE
God of the Ages, on this last day of 2022, I celebrate the truth that you are the God of the present, and of the future too.
Read PHILEMON 12-25
12 I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13 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. 14 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. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 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.
17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20 I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.
22 And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.
23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. 24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.
25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectDo you find it hard to let people you are close to move on to other things?
On the surface this is a simple request from Paul for Philemon to take back his former slave, but now as brother in Christ. He waxes eloquent about Onesimus and the change in him (v 16). Paul would have liked to keep him for himself, but knows Onesimus has another place to serve (v 12). A return will be difficult, but hopefully ultimately beneficial when he faces his past wrongs and experiences the ways of Christian living firsthand.
Paul makes a generous offer to pay anything owed for the misdeeds of Onesimus (v 19). But it is also a little less than a gentle reminder of how much Philemon owes Paul, this time in spiritual terms (v 19). So he says this one request really should be fulfilled – and more (v 21). Grace goes further than the letter of the law! Paying something forward is a modern concept which anticipates a need. For example, we might leave money at a café for a meal for someone who otherwise wouldn’t eat that day. Might this be a prompt for you to prepare a guest room to answer someone’s prayers (v 22)?
Wherever you are, look for ways to pay it forward and bring glory to Christ!
Sovereign God, on this last day of the year, I thank you for the past, and look forward to the future. I can’t wait to see what you will do.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.