Friday, August 31, 2012

Philemon 17-20

Summary retelling of Philemon 17-20

Paul tells Philemon that if he considers Paul to be a partner in Christ, then he should receive Onesimus as Philemon would receive any brother in Christ.  If Onesimus has incurred a debt, Paul offers to pay the debt.  Paul reminds Philemon that since he learned about Jesus through a person who was a disciple of his, then technically Philemon is already in his debt.  Paul tells Philemon that he is expecting to have relief for Onesimus because he is anticipating Philemon’s response to Onesimus as an expression of forgiveness.

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
Paul is reasonably blunt as he gets ready to close out his letter.  Paul reminds Philemon that if he is genuinely in Christ and Onesimus is genuinely in Christ, then Philemon is expected to treat Onesimus as a Christian brother above all else.  There really isn’t any wiggle room for Philemon.  If Onesimus is repentant and comes to Philemon expressing genuine sorrow, Philemon must forgive and receive his runaway slave as he would receive any other Christian.

Why is it difficult to forgive, especially against sins that affect us personally?  Why do you think Paul needs to be a little forceful in his words to get this point across?

Second Thought:
Paul offers to pay Onesimus’ debt.  This is said for two reasons.  First, it is likely that Onesimus has incurred some debt – if nothing else he has lost time when he should have been working for Philemon but wasn’t there to do it.  Thus, it is likely that Onesimus has some sort of debt to Philemon and Paul doesn’t want materialism to get in the way of Christian brotherhood.  Paul is willing to give of himself to make sure that the things of this world do not interfere with people living spiritually.

Have you ever made a personal sacrifice to make sure that a stumbling block to spirituality was removed from the picture?  Why did you make the sacrifice?  How did it feel to give of yourself knowing that it would impact the spiritual lives of your brothers and sisters?

Third Thought:
Paul also talks about this issue of debt.  The greatest gift we can ever receive is salvation.  The greatest gift we can ever have is to be given the knowledge of God and to hear about His promises to forgive us and save us.  We are always in debt to God on account of the sacrifice of Christ.  We are also in debt to those people of faith who inspire us to live according to God’s ways.

How does the knowledge of your indebtedness to God make you feel?  In what way can it seem like a hopeless situation?  In what way does our indebtedness to God remind us of hope, grace, and mercy?

Passage for Tomorrow: Philemon 21-22
Post a Comment