READ : Philemon 8-16
That you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother . . . (vv. 15-16)
While attempting to make contact with the remote Auca Indians in South America, five young missionaries were murdered by the tribesmen. Yet other missionaries continued to push ahead and eventually were successful in bringing the gospel to that village. Many of these tribal people were savingly united to Christ through their witness – including the very man who had led the murderous attacks! I remember reading an account of one of the missionary widows saying that the most difficult yet rewarding thing she had ever done was to forgive that man who killed her husband and accept him as a brother in Christ.
Paul encouraged Philemon to accept Onesimus back and forgive him for running away. If he would do that, their healed relationship would go far beyond that of master and slave. The new relationship would be between brothers in Christ. When we experience the forgiveness of sin through the work of Jesus Christ, our relationship with God changes forever. Though we were once alienated from God, we are now united with him as friends – and with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Thank you, God, for your forgiveness of my sin. And thank you for the relationships we now have in Jesus Christ.