Daily encouragement

Video by

Kimber Gilbert

ACF Devo Team Leader

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Philemon 1:17-18

“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.”

Behind the Scenes

A few weeks ago the Mendenhall River in Juneau, Alaska wreaked havoc before finally cresting. The silver river raged to the sea, taking with it trees and riverbanks. It even took a house. Likewise, our unchecked feelings can wreak havoc. Out of control and overflowing, they can ruin relationships and harden our hearts. Paul knew this and wanted to head damage off at the pass concerning his dear friend, Philemon, who had experienced a willful act of disloyalty, or betrayal. So, Paul wrote the short letter now tucked between Titus and Hebrews.

“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” (Philemon 1:12-16).

Who was Paul’s very heart? Onesimus, Philemon’s slave. Please note that Paul is not condoning slavery, but rather giving Philemon the chance to live into his higher calling, to live differently as a follower of Jesus. Paul’s way of battling the culture was to bring Jesus into the moment with a radical approach - the counter-cultural notion of treating a slave as a brother. We don’t know much about the history and relationship between Philemon and Onesimus, only that Onesimus might have stolen from Philemon before hitting the road (Philemon 1:18). We do, however, understand betrayal and its accompanying feelings of sorrow and anger. These feelings are as natural as rain in its season, but what are we to do with these accumulating feelings?

Make it Real

“Welcome him as you would welcome me,” Paul tells Philemon. “If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me” (Philemon 1:17-18). As a testimony to Philemon’s heart, Paul fully expects reconciliation between the two (Philemon 1:21). Do we have hearts like Philemon? Would Paul trust us to welcome back those who have deliberately deceived us? For the mind governed by the flesh such forgiveness is impossible. But for the mind governed by the Spirit we are able to do what is so backwards in our society today. We are able to “release” those who have wronged us, able to forgive them and renew broken relationships. With the guidance of the Spirit, we are able to practice His grace. Praise God!

End in Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, we can trust you with our broken hearts and broken relationships. Please give us discernment when it comes to practicing the same grace you have given to us, time and time again. Protect our hearts and lead us into reconciliation, whatever that might look like in whatever situation we might face. If we are to welcome back those who hurt us with their disloyalty, may we welcome them back as you welcome our prodigal souls back into your house. We love and praise you for your grace! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Written by

Kathleen Raygoza

ACF Devo Team