22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.
Until you leave your past behaviour and attitudes, you cannot walk in the new nature of Christ in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgive one another even as God in Christ Jesus forgave you. Verse 32.
Paul had a difficult decision to make. Philemon 1:8-16. Philemon’s slave Onesimus had run away from his master but by God’s sovereign will, met Paul and was converted and had been useful to Paul. Paul would like to keep him but it was not legal to do so because he is the slave of Philemon. Paul wrote to Philemon that Onesimus is much more than a slave, and is now equal in standing with him before the Master in heaven.
Look at the wisdom of God in Paul handling the issue. He exhorts and appeals more than rules with his apostolic authority. He did not compel Philemon to accept Onesimus back but to accept him voluntarily. Verse 14. Perhaps it was God’s plan for him to be away from him for a brief moment just for his salvation that he might be better used by him. Verses 15-16.
Paul is demonstrating a point that Christian freedom does not bind them with rules. If you know the Gospel and have the indwelling spirit, their relationship will no longer be the same.
Forgiveness of a slave who ran away and who probably had stolen from his master and deemed useless, is costly and at times painful. Philemon verse 21. Paul knows Philemon’s godly character verse 7 and therefore expects that his friend Philemon will do what is right.
This brief letter of Apostle Paul illustrates the transforming power of the Gospel in the life of the church. It shows broken relationships can be restored no matter how bad the past relationship was. It also shows that the Gospel carries the expectation that as God’s people, we should do what is right as we grow stronger in Christ.
Are you struggling to forgive someone? May this message touch your heart! Even if it is to forgive a non-believer, you need to do so. Who knows by your good deed, you could bring them to Christ? Forgiveness releases you from bondage and allows God to take sovereign control of the situation. We need to pray for one another. If you can’t forgive, how then can you approach His throne of grace with your petition?