PHILEMON: Slave or Brother

Paul’s Letter To Philemon

We know that the Apostle Paul was a letter writer. We also know that Philemon was the recipient of one of Paul’s letters. The shortest of Pauls letters to be exact. This letter that we are going to discuss was presumed to be sent while Paul was in jail. Philemon had heard Paul speak in Ephesus and become a Christian in this time. He became the host for a home church. Philemon was also a slave owner, and his slave’s name was Onesimus, also a believer in Jesus.

Appealing To The Heart

We see that Paul starts his letter to Philemon by appealing to the good that he has heard about him. Paul was very good at getting his readers attention and pointing out the good before addressing what could be changed.

Philemon1:4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. 6: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”

Paul did not openly condemn slavery that we know of. However, it is made clear through Paul’s letter to Philemon that he is trying to change the relationship from owner and slave to brotherhood. This is the purpose of the letter. Let’s get to the heart of Paul’s message.

Onesimus Runs Away

Onesimus has robbed his owner and run away. In his running, he has met Paul, and Paul is now telling him to return to his owner because this is the right thing to do. We don’t know when Onesimus became a believer, but Paul clearly states that he is a brother in Christ.

Philemon 1:15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.

Urged But Not Instructed

Philemon is urged but not instructed to see Onesimus differently than before he had run away. Paul is asking that he see him as brother, as worthy, as a son of God. It seems that if Philemon could see and accept Onesimus as a brother in Christ, then his title of slave would be diminished. How can we live a life of love, Christ’s love, if we are treating others as our property. If you look at slavery through the eyes of Jesus, how could it be so? If Paul could touch Philemon’s heart and get him to understand the love that Christ had for Onesimus was the same love that Christ had for him, slavery would have to start to disappear. One brother could not OWN the other.

We can see in this letter that Philemon has a choice between law and grace. By law, he has every right to punish Onesimus, his slave, for stealing from him and running away, but if he looks at the situation from the eyes of the Lord, he has only one choice; grace. We see in verse 18 that Paul is being an example of Christ’s love for Onesimus in his own right.

Philemon 1:18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.

The Outcome Is Not The Point

We don’t get to see Philemon’s response to Paul, and I think that is ok. I don’t think the idea was to see what Philemon does and then judge good or bad on how he did. I think the idea of Paul’s letter was so show us an example of how we as humans should be treating any other human, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.

What Does This Mean For US?

So how does this apply to us, and why do we care that it was important enough to be in the Bible? Well, let’s see. Each and every one of us has, at some point in our life, been employed. You may be the boss or you may be the employee, either way God is speaking to us in this letter. We may not be OWNED by our employer or OWN our employees, but there is some authority in a workplace.

Employees, all employees, but especially those brothers and sisters in Christ, should be treated respectfully. They are created in God’s image the same as you and I. Likewise, employees, your boss may not always be kind, but we are to show grace and forgiveness. The world is not a place that God created for us to use one another to get where we want or think we need to be. You don’t have a right to use another human being as a stepping ladder to climb to the top. Employees, we are not to steal from or hinder the advancement of our employer either. There should be a mutual relationship of hard work, love, grace and forgiveness. There will come a time that we are called to judgement for the way that we have treated ALL people.

Don’t Use And Abuse, Instead Love And Honor

Let the words of Paul to Philemon soak into your own heart. Is there someone that you need to apologize to? Someone who deserves some of God’s grace and forgiveness from you? Just as Paul is telling Philemon that Onesimus is more to him than just a slave, he is his brother. He is also telling the same to us. Those around us are not to be used and abused when we feel like we deserve more. They are to be loved and honored.

Let us pray: God we know that your word is filled with stories, letters and examples of life so that we can learn your heart and know your will. We pray that you would open our eyes and our hearts to yearn for the same things as yours. We pray that we would look at others as our brothers and sisters in Christ and treat them as such. Thank you for the reminder, and thank you for your forgiveness we make a mess of things. In Jesus name, AMEN!

 

The Lump in My Throat

WHAT IS THAT?

Tuesday morning I took a nice hot shower. I got out of the shower and decided that I was going to try a new face cream that had come in my Boxy Charm box that past week. It’s supposed to help make your pores appear smaller and so of course I had to get a closer look. I was looking in the mirror and I noticed that I had a lump under my skin on my throat, but a little to the left. I’m not going to lie…I had a small freak out in that moment. A LUMP! What the heck, lumps are scary.

So I did what any normal human does and took a picture with my phone and sent to it my husband. I now had him worried and he wasn’t even home. So I sent the picture to my Mom and to my friend Tracy who works for one of my doctors. They both reassured me that it was nothing and to stay calm. I TRIED, really I did. Tracy went ahead a scheduled an ultrasound for me the next day. I went to the ultrasound, it was easy. Then I went home and life goes on. By now I was feeling a lot better. I didn’t feel worried, stressed, or anything out of the ordinary. I actually was pretty peaceful about it all.

The results came the next day and they said that I had a thyroglossal duct cyst. So everyone explained to me that it was a good thing. Cysts can usually be drain or there may have to be a surgery but nothing to major. Great!

Tracy was able to get me an appointment with her endocrinologist for Thursday and an MRI scheduled for Friday. All of this after seeing my primary care on Monday morning (because I didn’t have one, and needed one). Now I was starting to get stressed. Not stressed about my health but stressed about all these appointments. I mean, I didn’t have time for all of this! I am a stay at home, homeschool mom to 4 kiddos, how could I keep skipping out for these appointments?

WE DIDN’T EVEN HAVE HOT WATER

I lost my cool on Tuesday night, after my husband got home. He asked how I was doing and I just couldn’t handle it. Then to make matters worse, he was being so loving and caring and in my anger I spouted words I didn’t mean. I had said that I was sorry for freaking out and he said, ” If you are going to freak out, I should be the one you freak out with don’t be sorry”. My reply, “but you just make things worse”. Oh my goodness! I wanted to stick my foot directly into my own mouth. I can’t believe that was what I said, I didn’t mean it. The reason I was upset was because a few minutes prior he had told me that things could be worse.

That wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I wanted my feelings to be validated and so I lashed out at him. I felt so awful. To top it off I couldn’t even go take a bath and cry because our hot water heater isn’t working. UGH!

Anyhow, so today Thursday, I went to the endocrinologist and she was amazing! She was thorough and asked about everything. She was kind and patient. I couldn’t  have had a better experience. The appointment was good. She confirmed that it was a cyst and wanted to get an ultrasound of her own. So we went right there in the office and she was taking a peak. Welp! She decided that this cyst could be drained. She told me they were going to clean my skin, give me a lidocaine shot that would sting and burn and then stick a small needle that had a syringe on the end into the cyst and clear it out.

WHAT?????

I hate needles, I was instantly sweating through my nice GREY shirt and was as stiff as a board. I was so nervous. Then to make matters a little bit worse, I wasn’t allowed to swallow while she was giving the shot or draining. Do you know how are it is not to swallow when you have a pool of saliva collecting in the back of your throat due to the position you are in? It was so hard. I think I may have swallowed when I wasn’t supposed to once. It was a horrible feeling, but I made it through. The cyst is gone, the liquid is on its way to a lab to be checked for abnormal cells (not thinking there will be any) and then we wait. If the cyst returns then I will be going to surgery and if it doesn’t then I am finished with this.

WHOOOT WHOOT!

BEING GOD’S DAUGHTER

Now that we are through that you probably are wondering why I wanted to share all of that with you. Here is why. This was a hard week and a half for me. I am normally a worrying when it comes to these things, but for whatever reason that wasn’t my worry this time. I half heartedly joked that I didn’t need to worry because (playing to music) He’s got the whole world in his hands… and that includes my throat. I have been at peace with my health this entire time. Remembering and really focusing on the fact that I am Gods daughter put a peace in me that I didn’t know I had. It was like I was able to just say here, I don’t want to have to worry about this. You take it, and just like that, he did.

A year and a half ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. I would have been worried sick and would probably still be worried for the next 10 days until the labs come back, but not now. I wish that I could explain how I got to this place of trust, but the only thing that I can think is that God and I have been spending a lot more time together than we used to. It feels like I understand the way he works a little better. The way he loves, the he shows mercy and justice. I can see that sometimes we have to go through scary things in order to recognize our own growth. Sometimes we have to go through things that are going to help us grow and sometimes those things include suffering.

The Bible says, And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast (1 Peter 5:10) 

He isn’t going to leave you sitting in the ashes forever. He will restore you.

Find your peace and your calm in Jesus. I know that it is hard, I may have been able to do it this past week or so but I struggle when it comes to handed our finances over to him. I don’t struggle that he won’t provide what is needed, I struggle that I won’t have the strength to spend the money where it NEEDS to be spent. So as I pray for you to be able to find peace with Jesus even in your discomfort, please pray for me that I can fully hand over my money worries.

You can either live with a HOLE or let Him make you WHOLE! 

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