There are two things we seldom see nowadays, a personal handwritten note; and someone who says to us, “Put that on my bill.” In this little letter, a man named Philemon received both.
This is one of the most personal stories in the Bible and it provides us with Paul’s only piece of truly private correspondence in Scripture.
Paul wrote it from prison, addressed to a wealthy man named Philemon who lived in the Turkish town of Colosse.
Philemon possessed bondservants, one of whom, Onesimui, had run away and fled to Rome. It’s likely he had robbed Philemon.
There in the capital city of Rome, Onesimus crossed paths with the apostle Paul who led him to faith in Christ.
The young man found new life, and Paul took this boy into his heart like a father to his son, mentoring and discipling him.
But the day came for Onesimus to be sent back to Philemon with this slip of a letter, an appeal from Paul to Philemon regarding Onesimus.
“Receive this young man as a brother,” said Paul, and “if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account” (Phil 1:17-18).
Onesimus left a runaway slave; he returned a dear brother, and we’re left with a book that teaches us the power of forgiveness and reconciliation.
We can’t claim to experience God’s love if we refuse to forgive others. Christian forgiveness knows no boundaries. Christ put our sins on His account that we might be both forgiven and forgiving.
Being members of God’s family obligates us to attitudes of forgiveness, reconciliation, and mutual respect, one for another.
“That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.
Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Phil 1:10-11).
Receive, respect, and refresh your brothers and sisters in Christ.