Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. (Philemon 1:20)


Paul presents a rational, emotional and authoritative appeal for Philemon to receive Onesimus back into his household and church. Paul is joyful to see the love and faith of Philemon that has refreshed the hearts of those in the church. Likewise, Paul asks for his heart to be refreshed also by accepting Onesimus. Onesimus has become very valuable to Paul while he is in prison as an old man, but he is more valuable still to Philemon. Paul could simply command Philemon to do what is right in accordance with the will of God. Philemon is indebted to Paul with regards to his personal salvation, and this act of forgiveness is a means of repaying that debt. The choice is completely left to Philemon but the stakes are high. Rejecting Onesimus goes against the will of God, breaks the heart of Paul, severs their partnership, disavows the debt of gratitude, and ignores authority. Accepting him reaps the benefits of a new brother in Christ and a refreshed relationship with Paul.

God is reminding me that when I hold a grudge against someone, I am going against his will, breaking his heart, disavowing my debt of gratitude, and ignoring His authority. God loves every person that He created. Regardless of what anyone has done to me, I must forgive them as Christ has forgiven me. I am not my own, for Jesus paid for me with His very life. Father, help me to forgive those who I have not forgiven. I never deserved your forgiveness, yet you covered me with your grace. Thank you for saving me from myself.

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