Onesimus The Slave

December 2 – Today’s Readings – Philemon and Proverbs 2

“Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul — an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus – I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains.” [Philemon 8-10]

“If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back – not to mention that you owe me your very self.” [Philemon 18-19]

I feel as though I’ve just opened someone’s mail labelled “PERSONAL / CONFIDENTIAL ” and poked around in his or her private business. This single chapter book is intensely personal and “in your face”. It is a great example of two Christian brothers “doing business” in the things of God. What’s at stake? – Their relationship.

Onesimus, the slave is being sent back to his legal owner. He has accepted the Lord while in service to Paul the Apostle and Paul has obviously invested a lot into him because he really doesn’t want to send him back. My guess is that Onesimus was sent to Paul on an errand – perhaps with a gift and a letter of encouragement while the Apostle was in jail. He overstayed because Paul was busy trying to mentor him. Now Onesimus was late and could be punished severely – so Paul “leaned” on Philemon, the slave owner and fellow believer. Some would call this a misuse of spiritual authority. Some would call it spiritual bullying. Paul didn’t seem to have any qualms about what he said or how he said it. He even went so far as to order up a guest suite so that if he was released and came through town, he would have a nice place to stay! He obviously was quite secure in his relationship with Philemon and felt free to communicate his feelings openly.

Did you notice that Paul also corrected Philemon? 1:6 reads; “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”

If Philemon had been more “active” in sharing his faith, Paul would not have had to lead Onesimus to the Lord. Paul thought that this was worth encouraging his “brother” about. What is fascinating to me is that Paul equated the sharing of faith with having “full understanding” in Christ. I believe that there is a direct link between our “sharing” and our revelation of Christ. As we speak, God puts revelation in our hearts. If we don’t step out and engage people, we limit ourselves in our spiritual growth.

My daughter, who is a schoolteacher, tells me that children never really fully learn about the subject matter at hand until they have to make up their own questions about the subject. It is only then that the material becomes “theirs” – they become “teachers”. So it is with the Gospel – it’s one thing to hear it – it’s another thing altogether when we begin to share it with others.

Challenge:

1. Make it a personal goal to share your faith with someone today – if it doesn’t happen today, then go for tomorrow. Share with us how this experience affected you attitude and faith.

Normal Christianity

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“In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” (Titus 2:7-8)
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“I beat some of the men”

November 30 – Today’s Readings – Nehemiah 12-13 and Psalms 150
Chapter 13:23-25 reads, “Moreover, in those days I saw men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples, and did not know how to […]

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Obey

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Nehemiah 9:38 and 10:28-29 reads, “In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it.”…“The rest of the people—priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, temple servants and all […]

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Repentance

November 28 – Today’s Readings – Nehemiah 7-9 and Psalms 148
As you read this portion of Scripture today, you no doubt noted the convergence of good things taking place in Israel at this time in history. First the people had been challenged to put sin behind them and begin to live according to God’s plan […]

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