Two devotionals that I read regularly are both emphasizing Saint Paul’s letter to Philemon.
The letter of Philemon is one of Paul’s prison epistles. It is written to an individual rather than a church.
Philemon was a prominent man in the community and a faithful brother in the church. Onesimus was a runaway slave who had apparently stolen, cheated, and caused distress to Philemon.
By the providence of God, Onesimus made his way to Rome and met Paul. There, in chains, Onesimus became truly free.
The remainder of the story gets amazing.
First, Paul dared to write to Philemon and ask him to take Onesimus back not as a slave but as a brother. This would be a strange letter in any day but particularly in that day.
Second, Onesimus dared to return to his former master and take whatever punishment and treatment that might come his way. This runaway slave – – because of the gospel – – determined to make things right.
Finally, Philemon dared to forgive and to remove the stigma of the slaves’ conduct.
Paul asked Philemon to forgive and to receive his former slave as a brother in Christ. While we don’t know the exact outcome – – we only have one half of the conversation– – the existence of this letter indicates that Philemon forgave.
Paul’s word for forgiveness carries the connotation to “dismiss” or to “forsake.” We can’t forget events or actions but we can determine to dismiss them from our mind and forsake them in our thoughts.
The remarkable actions of Paul, Onesimus, and Philemon show the power of the gospel.
Our lives can do the same. How are you showing the power of the good news of Jesus Christ today?