The apostle Paul wrote a letter to Philemon about Onesimus, a runaway slave owned by Philemon. The letter is the only private letter that we have of
Paul’s; in fact it reads more like a postcard. Yet in 25 verses, Paul
shares some tender thoughts and powerful applications about grace,
forgiveness and acceptance.
Slavery was a common practice in the first century; Paul does not condemn
slavery in his writings, but he makes a profound appeal to Philemon to
accept Onesimus back as a brother in Christ.
Onesimus had stolen from his master and run away to Rome. In that great
city, he came into the company of Paul, and as a result, he was converted
to Christ. Under Roman law, Philemon had the right to brand a return slave
and even kill him. Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon appealing for his
acceptance and forgiveness of Onesimus.
This letter reminds us that Christianity has the power to heal hurting
hearts and to repair broken people, putting them back on their feet. It
instructs us that, when given the chance, we are to participate in a
revolutionary thing called grace and forgiveness leading to reconciliation.
We stem the tide against cruelty and hatred by doing for others what Paul
asked Philemon to do for Onesimus.
Culled from the Hope Bible by Joel Osteen.