#DailyDevotion What Motivates You?
Philemon 17Now if you think of me as your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18If he cheated you or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19I Paul, am writing this with my own hand – I’ll pay it back. I don’t want to mention that you owe me more than that your own self. 20Yes, my fellow Christian, I want you to be useful to me in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. 21As I write to you, I’m sure you’ll do this. I know you’ll do even more than I ask.
Now Paul concludes the argument of his letter and request in a very Christ like manner. What I mean is he argues that if he thought of Paul as his partner, that he would welcome Onesimus as he would welcome Paul. This is clearly pulling out the clear teaching of Christ, whose words no doubt are familiar to Philemon, “He who welcomes you, welcomes me.” Paul is saying that goes for him and Onesimus as well, so bound are they to one another in Christ Jesus.
He makes the Christ argument even more important when he says, “18If he cheated you or owes you anything, charge it to me.” Now Philemon knows his own sins. He knows what he owes to God because of his sins. All his trespasses, all his rebellions, all his missing the mark, all the debt he accrued to God because of his sins, he knows they were charge to Jesus’ account and Jesus had paid it in full, even more abundantly than that so we could always be certain there isn’t a sin that wasn’t covered. Now Onesimus is in the place of Philemon. No doubt there is the price of him being a slave that has been lost. There is the cost of lost production while he was away. He may have stolen to be able to afford to run away as he did. Paul stands in the place of Christ here and says to Philemon, whatever is lost, charge it my account, I will repay.
Philemon is then reminded how much he owes Paul, more than his own self. Paul had brought eternal salvation to Philemon and his house which is of inestimable worth. This is why he owed Paul more than his own self. Think of those who brought you the gospel of Jesus Christ, who educate you in the word of God and strengthen your faith through the gospel and the sacraments. You owe them like Paul your very lives as well.
Now verse twenty is particularly funny as he tells Philemon as a fellow Christian he wants him to be useful (onnaimen from whence we get Onesimus) to him. Philemon is placed in the place of Onesimus in relationship to Paul. Thus as Onesimus is to you Philemon, I want you Philemon to be Onesimus to me. Paul desires Philemon to refresh his heart. Philemon will do this by fulfilling the love of Christ in his life by forgiving Onesimus and treating him as a Christian brother and not a runaway slave. Paul is even expecting Philemon to do even more than this. What might that be? To free Onesimus? To treat him as he should any other Christian?
So if Paul says Philemon should treat his runway slave Onesimus in this manner because of Jesus Christ and what he has done for us, how should we be treating our fellow Christians? As Christ has received and accepted us by his blood, should we not also receive and accept as brothers those who are covered in the same blood as us? As we go about our daily business let us remember the blood of Christ and our redemption price and love one another as Christ has loved us.
Almighty and merciful Father, grant us faith and the Holy Spirit that we may live our days remembering our redemption price and how out of love you sent your son Jesus Christ to pay it so we too may humble and sacrifice our own selves for those whom you also have redeemed with the blood of Christ Jesus. In his precious name we pray. Amen.