A Slave’s Story of Forgiveness

Krista Williams

Day: 25 | Plan: Christ Alone

Today’s Reading: Philemon 1

Philemon 1:17-18 (NIV) So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.”

I wonder sometimes if we forget just how magnificent a story God has written. Truly, it’s better than Hollywood’s major motion pictures. Imagine this as the movie trailer to an epic film …

He’s an escaped slave who’s stolen from his master and is now on the run. Fleeing to the other side of the world, he encounters a man who befriends him. This new friend radically changes the slave’s life with the truth of the gospel. At some point, the slave confesses his sin against his former master only to discover that his friend not only knows his master but is also the very one who shared the life-changing truth of the gospel with the master and led him to Christ.

This is not a Hollywood story line. And this is not only the story of Onesimus, Paul and Philemon under the creative direction of God. But more personally, this is our story as well because Paul’s letter to Philemon depicts the gospel lived out. This is a story of forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation.

Like Onesimus, we were guilty. We were on the run from God. Trying to hide and escape.

Like Paul, Jesus steps in to introduce us to freedom and forgiveness.

And just as Paul says to Philemon, “If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me” (Philemon 1:18), Jesus takes our sin and the debt we owe and adds it to His account. He pays for our crime. This is redemption, to buy back or settle a debt free and clear.

Because of Paul, Onesimus and Philemon are reconciled. Because of Christ, we are reconciled to God.

What was the end of this story? We don’t know but surely forgiveness flowed. The historical evidence suggests Philemon returned Onesimus back to Paul.

It appears likely from history that Onesimus, the runaway slave, through the passage of time became Timothy’s successor as the pastor at Ephesus. Onesimus was known as the great Bishop of Ephesus. This man whose name meant “useful” was useless until he met Christ.

The most confused, twisted life can ultimately be seen as a beautiful tapestry of God’s grace. The evil that you did, or that has been done to you, could be the very thing that brings you to Christ.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You that Onesimus’s story is my story. Thank You. Jesus. for dying in my place and paying the full price for my sin. Out of gratitude and love for You, help me to share Your truth with others so they too might be forgiven and freed. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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This whole story is beautifully woven together by God’s providential hand. Providence... Read More

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