Hey friends! This will be the final post on Philemon and the closing of the Taylor story. If this is the first time you are reading, just scroll down for the preceding posts. 🙂
Taylor and I now live half a country away from one another and are as close as we were before the beginning of our conflict. After the initial moment of forgiveness, all was not perfect immediately.
The Lord definitely had to intervene when our humanness became apparent. We have readdressed the situation frequently, learning each time what we could do differently when encounter conflict with another person we name as our sister.
If he forgives me for spitting in His face every day, how can I not forgive my sister in Him?
By following His command to forgive, He brought a joy to our relationship that should not be there. Joy that could only be given by Him.
For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
Forgiveness brings joy.
Paul makes it clear that Onesimus should not only be a brother but a beloved brother—one who he values as precious treasure. Taking him back does not simply mean gaining a family member but acquiring a dear love for one of God’s children.
So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.
Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.
Furthermore, it will bring Paul great joy to see his brother in Christ follow in the way of the gospel. Forgiveness is something that should touch our hearts. After all, it is the pure reason we are able to have a relationship with our Savior.
You see, Paul knows what following in Christ’s commands provides for a person. He iterates in Philippians 1:21 that for him, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Paul is highlighting the great satisfaction in following Jesus and only Jesus. Life on earth is determined by Him. His word. His love. His grace. Living is exemplifying Christ. Dying is encountering Him.
And what better way to exemplify Christ than to mimic His forgiveness if only a little.
Living like Christ, loving like Christ, forgiving like Christ is what we should hinge our life on. It is what brings joy, because he is the only one who can provide true joy.
So how does the story end?
This part of the story is ultimately not conveyed in Scripture. However, there is a pretty good theory that Philemon followed in Paul’s example.
This is a picture of Saint Onesimus. He is believed to have helped Philemon grow the church in Colossae, not as a slave, but as a partner to Philemon. It seems that Philemon heard Paul’s wishes and took Onesimus back in as his brother in Christ.
And the Lord did as promised! He brought blessing from forgiveness.
Philemon forgave Onesimus and took him
back into his life. Then, he put away any anger he might have harbored and partnered with Philemon to glorify God and spread His name.
I have found so much joy in forgiving my sister, Taylor. Was it easy? No. Did I feel like she deserved it at the time? No. Did she or I really deserve forgiveness? No. But what a blessing it was to get to experience a taste of what Jesus does for me every day.
And He rewarded it!
I became more aware of Christ’s sacrifice for me. It would be so easy for Him to look away from us and simply allow us to get what we deserve. But that wasn’t the plan. Instead of doing the easy, just thing, He left the comfort of heaven and came to our fallen, sinful world to forgive us of our trespasses against Him.
Through His guidance, we have been able to council others through conflict. Through His faithfulness we have strengthened our relationship. Through His forgiveness, he took our sin and used it for His glory and our bettering.