April 20, 2017

April 20, 2017

Thursday – Philemon 1: 17-22

So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 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. I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask. And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.

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After Paul explains that he is going to send Onesimus back, he then explains that he will cover any of Onesimus’s debt to him. So if it was 1 penny or 1,000 dollars, Paul said he would cover it. He was willing to go into his own pocket to make things right. He was willing to do whatever was needed to make sure Philemon and Onesimus were at peace with each other.

It’s easy to see a need. Anyone can look at a situation or an organization or even a person and decide what is wrong. We notice problems in communication, problems in attitude, and even problems in morality. It’s easy to see the problem.

Paul saw a problem, but he went a few steps further. He addressed the problem with the person. He wrote a letter to Philemon and told him how things ought to be. He didn’t do it forcefully. He didn’t do it in a hateful way. He encouraged him, told him how excited he was about his life change. And then shared something he knew would be hard, but wanted to make sure Philemon knew the truth.

Some of us stop there. We aren’t invested enough and we don’t care enough to share the hard truth. We’re afraid the relationship won’t withstand it. So we know someone needs to hear something and we refuse to say it. I love this passage because it shows how deeply Paul loved on these people and how they loved him back. He told this guy this hard truth of accepting back a thief into his household and then Paul says “save a room for me because I might pop by too.” You don’t invite yourself over unless you’ve really invested in someone, and Paul had. He cared about Philemon and when he spoke hard truth it was heard.

Here is the second part he made sure to do. He offered to foot the bill. It’s not enough to see a problem. It is not enough to speak truth to someone about it. It’s being willing to be part of the solution. If I believe that a person needs to be better dressed I’d better be willing to help buy the new clothing. If I think there needs to be a better kind of ministry at church I had better be willing to get involved and make that happen. It’s not enough to say there is a problem if I’m not willing to be part of its solution.

When you see something, do you ignore it? Are you committed and invested enough to be honest? If so, what are you doing to be part of the solution?