“For perhaps he departed for awhile for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.” Philemon 1:15-16
Walk His Way Revisited
When you brought home that second baby from the hospital, did some sibling rivalry suddenly rear its ugly head? “Can’t you take it back, Mom?”
Or maybe at first it was all fun and games for the older sibling, but soon enough the eldest tired of the baby getting so much of the attention, crying for everything, getting held and rocked, patted and cooed over—and especially getting all those gifts….
Yesterday we discussed how Philemon was being asked to receive his runaway slave back because Onesimus had met the Lord and was returning to his master with all his heart.
There’s another lesson here, too. Philemon and Onesimus are now brothers. Family. Part of the same Body. Onesimus would belong to Philemon not only in the flesh, but in the Lord. Their relationship and eternal status had changed.
Paul, in his letter to Philemon, asked Philemon to show that he is a believer by receiving Onesimus with grace and forgiveness. Brotherhood and forgiveness must be lived out in public. Prove it in the flesh. This is how you and others will know it is real.
The flesh life is always a parallel to the spirit life. What we do on the outside reflects what is inside. What is inside should show on the outside. Do to others what Jesus did for you.
A drastic change had come into the life Onesimus, the sinner. No accompanying change had come to Philemon, the believer. Paul therefore had to tell him, “This is how brothers live. They accept. They love. They give and forgive. They live out what they say they believe.”
The baby believer had come to live as a permanent part of the family of God. Hold him. Receive him. Let him play with your toys. Be the big brother.
How are we doing with this, ladies? If someone has been restored to relationship with you, have you accepted and received that person? Do you suspect that their “heart change” isn’t real and thus you hold them at arm’s length, not looking them in the eye, never quite believing their story?
Or, if a person you’ve known outside of Christ is now a brother or sister, have you embraced him or her as a family member? Do you treat them as you would any believing friend at church? Do you let them play with your toys—in other words, do you trust them, not just with your “stuff” but with your heart?
If you struggle with the concept of whether they “deserve” it, I exhort you to let God sort it out. Do what Jesus did. Forgive. Accept, without regard to the outcome. Trust His love, both for you and for the other person. He’ll do what needs doing.
Father, help us to fully receive and accept the brothers and sisters You bring into the family. May we put aside our agendas, hurts, and suspicions, and move forward in the same grace and forgiveness You have given us. Amen.