Wednesday – Phil 1:8-16
Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus,b who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. 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.14 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.
When Paul first met Philemon, he was a rich man who had many slaves working for him. One of them was a man by the name of Onesimus. Onesimus ran away with Paul and actually may have stolen money when he left and abandoned his place at Philemon’s service. Paul spent time with Onesimus, he taught him, worked with him, and eventually Onesimus became a follower of Jesus as well. Paul then encourages Onesimus to go back to Philemon. So, in this letter we get to see Paul encourage Philemon to not only welcome him back, but when he gets back, to treat him like a brother. Onesimus (who had stolen and ran away) wasn’t to be looked at like a servant who owed money, but a brother to care about. His debt was to be forgiven and he was to be treated like a brother.
What we learn from this is that the gospel is always working. It is always transforming us. Sometimes in ways we never expected. Sometimes in ways we may be reluctant towards, and sometimes in ways we wouldn’t think. I’m sure Philemon thought nothing of owning a person when he first met Paul and accepted Jesus. Now though, God had worked in his heart and from the teaching and instruction of Paul, Philemon would move to treat what was once his bondservant as his new brother. He would even have to forgive Onesimus’ offense.
We should always be allowing the gospel to grow us. We should always be letting the gospel change us. We should be listening to those strong voices in our lives encouraging us to be more like Christ. We should be studying scripture in hopes that it will convict and motivate our heart.
We’re never done and the Holy Spirit should always be working in our life. We just have to get out of the way and let him. Are you studying scripture, praying, fasting, meditating on verses, and praising God? These are the things that stir God’s spirit to move in us.