Paul writes to a wealthy believer named Philemon about a runaway slave named Onesimus.  The Apostle met the slave in prison and led him to the Lord.  The two have grown close to the point that Paul tells Philemon, “I have sent him back to you in person, that is, my very heart.”  Now, he writes to his friend and co-worker in the faith to accept Onesimus not just as a slave but as a brother-in-Christ.  He challenges Philemon to radically change his relationship with his former slave and to forgive him completely for his failure.  Paul goes even farther and asks Philemon to do this because of their relationship and to charge any misdeeds to his account.  Do you hear this Apostle and church-planter’s heart?  He loves both of these men and believes that accountability is a huge part of their relationships.  Onesimus had to hear the Gospel and Jesus had to change his heart before he could ever return to his master in repentance and a readiness to truly serve him.  Philemon had to hear Paul’s heart and change his own accordingly which took incredible humility.  Clearly, God was at work in this whole situation and worked beautifully towards reconciliation between these two men.  Many of you have seen my pictures of our Elder’s Retreat.  This has been a “Philemon moment” as we bonded together as brothers in the faith and in ministry.  That bonding required humility, forgiveness, and repentant hearts on all our parts so that God can continue to do a work that he started almost forty years ago at Faith.  God is still on His throne, and as we follow Paul’s example, we will see Him work in ways beyond our expectations.

Help me, Lord, to have a humble heart and a readiness to forgive others as You have forgiven me.  Help me to always be ready to reconcile with those who have hurt me so that You can do incredible works that I cannot imagine.