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A Challenge

Peter Jenkins

Jul 15th 2021 · Day 196

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Philemon was known for his love for the saints. His faith and generosity seemingly enabled the Colossian church to be established, and to flourish. But Philemon’s Christian love was about to be put to the test. 

Paul writes to Philemon while he is in prison in Rome and pleads with him to show the same kindness he shows to fellow believers to a man called Onesimus.

Who was Onesimus, and why would it have been a challenge for Philemon to love him?

Onesimus was a runaway slave who belonged to Philemon. Apparently he had fled to Rome, probably thinking that he would get lost in the crowd and no one would ever find him. But while in Rome, the providential hand of God put him in contact with a prisoner named Paul. While in prison, Paul led Onesimus to the Lord and now Paul was writing to Philemon, with quite a challenge for him.

Paul reminds Philemon that Onesimus is no longer a slave but is now a ‘beloved brother’ in Christ (v. 16), and asks Philemon to welcome Onesimus the same way he would Paul (v. 17)!

The story of Onesimus and Philemon teaches us why it is important to always keep a heavenly perspective on life. Humanly speaking, Philemon had every right to hold anger and animosity against Onesimus. Yet God had a plan and purpose for their relationship that far exceeded either of their expectations. 

Just as Philemon was undoubtedly challenged, so we can allow this story to challenge us. Who do we need to forgive? Who do we need to invite back into our lives?

Pause and reflect: Is it time to let go of past hurts, and even think about restoration? If this is a challenge to you, perhaps talk to a trusted leader or Christian friend about it.

Written By

Peter Jenkins

Peter serves as chaplain to The Voice Asia, a multimedia ministry targeting non-Christian Asians. He is also chaplain of the International Motors Group and missions pastor at Victory Church. He is passionate about being a channel of God’s blessing wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter @PastorDelBoy

© Victory Church UK 2021