Home > Christianity, Faith > How Could Philemon Refresh Paul’s Heart?

How Could Philemon Refresh Paul’s Heart?

Last week we finally saw the big reveal from Paul.  We learned what this large request he was making of Philemon.  He asked Philemon to take his runaway slave, Onesimus, back into his home.  This would fly in the face of convention as slaves were nothing more than a piece of property.  What Paul was asking would shake up societal norms and could upset the neighbors.  Today we continue with Paul’s plea.

So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me.  We have previously discussed that Philemon was well to do.  He had to be to own a slave.  He had come to know the Lord through the ministry of Paul in Ephesus.  Paul and Philemon loved each other.  This puts some teeth to what Paul is asking of Philemon.

The Gospel changes our views on everything.  Philemon is going to have to change his mindset.  Instead of looking at Onesimus as a slave, he is going to have to view him as a beloved brother.  He would have to see him as an equal.  Things like this just weren’t done at this time in history.  We have the beginnings of the ending of slavery here.

If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything , charge that to my account.  Running away from slavery was punishable by anything up to death during these Roman times.  Legally, Philemon has every right to dream up any type of punishment imaginable for Onesimus.

Paul gives us a picture of what Christ did for us here.  I can see Christ standing before His Father saying, “Charge the debt of sin for everyone to my account.”

Paul shared the Gospel with Philemon.  He invested in him and helped him grow in Christ.  He has made incredible deposits into Philemon’s life.  He is now asking Philemon to withdraw some of those deposits on Onesimus’ behalf.

I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it.  Paul has little in his life.  He is a prisoner himself at this point, not knowing if he will live or die.  How will he repay Philemon?  He will invest in Philemon’s life.

To say nothing of your owing me even your own self.  yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord.  Paul finally plays at card that he has held back from explicitly playing so far.  He reminds Philemon that his standing with the Lord owes to Paul’s ministry to him.  He has never asked for anything in return.  Now, this once, he does.

Refresh my heart in Christ.  What will be the results if Philemon receives Onesimus back?  His heart will be refreshed in Christ.  In other words, this simple act will glorify Christ.  This is always Paul’s aim.  Glorifying Christ will refresh Paul’s heart.

What are our takeaways from these short verses this week?

1.  The Gospel, if we truly live it out, will change the culture.

2.  We all make deposits into people’s lives.  Sometimes we have to make withdrawals.  The key is to not be overdrawn.

3.  Our aim should always be to glorify Christ.

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