Philemon: Reconciliation

Why did God save this story in the Bible? Shows us how God wants us to be with each other. Paul is like Jesus.

Vs. 4 – 7

“4 I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.[a] For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.”

Characteristics of Philemon:

  • love
  • faith
  • sharing
  • discipling  – refreshing the saints (encouraging & strengthening them) 

He was a godly and caring man. Yet he still had conflict.  There are different ways to avoid conflict:, two of them being:

1. Be controlling, demanding, make people afraid or uncomfortable

2. Avoid closeness with people so you don’t care.

Both of these ways are not God’s way because they keep us from knowing each other closely and loving each other. If you are involved in each others’ lives in the way God wants you to be, you will have conflict sometimes.

God wants us to reconcile with each other if we can. This means, make a good relationship with each other again. This example of Philemon shows us how.

Vs. 8-9a, 14

Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus—

“14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.

But if we obey for this reason, we obey with just our actions, so that we don’t get in trouble. Jesus wants us to reconcile because we have become like Jesus inside, and our hearts tell us to do it.

When you read these verses, remember that reconciling it helps you become more like Jesus.

Vs. 12

“12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart

Paul says how much he loves Philemon. In the same way, God loves each of His children.

Maybe at one time we had many thoughts about the person, like “He is a good father. He can sing well. I like to talk to him. He works hard.” When we are upset at someone, we think only about the problem when we think about that person. If the person said bad things about us, whenever we think of that person, we think about the bad things they said, and those thoughts make us feel hurt and angry again. It is as if that person becomes only the problem.

When you read this verse, remember that this person is God’s child and God loves each of His children very much. What you do to a fellow Christian, you do to the heart of God. This will help you act towards the person, not just the problem.

Vs. 15 – 16

“15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant[c] 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.

When we have problems in a relationship, it shows something about us or about our relationship that God wants to make better.

It can be very hard and painful to find out where we are not the best.

But if we are humble, and ask God to do His will in us and in the situation, He will work in His way and in His time.

When you read these verses, remember that reconciling does not mean trying to bring the relationship back to what it was before. This only created problems. Reconciling means changing the relationship, coming back together in a better way than before.

Vs. 17

“17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me

Why would we welcome another Christian as we would welcome Jesus?

It is because the Holy Spirit of Jesus is in this person’s life. That person is a temple of the Holy Spirit. The temple may not be a very good one, but God sent His perfect and worthy Spirit to live in that person. Should we refuse to welcome one whom God has loved and chosen?

We must remember that God, who began a good work in that person, will be faithful to complete it, and He may want to use us in that work.

Paul says, “if you consider me a partner, welcome him.” Partners share work together and they share the rewards. By His grace, Jesus has chosen us to partner with Him as He works in other peoples’ lives.

When you read this verse, remember that God may want to work through you to help the other person grow. You ask God to use this situation for the good of the other person.

Vs. 18 – 19

“18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self.

This is forgiveness.

When someone has done wrong to us, we often feel like now we have a right to punish them.

Maybe we will not talk to them any more,

maybe we will tell others what the person has done,

maybe we will look friendly on the outside but hold on to anger and dislike on the inside.

Jesus says, “If someone has done you wrong, charge it to Me.” It is like this: Suppose a man goes to visit his friend and he takes his small brother with him. The small brother is being naughty running around the house, and he breaks something that belongs to the friend.

Now the small brother owes something to the friend. He cannot pay it. So the older brother pays for the broken thing. If the friend then goes to the little brother and says, “You must pay for that,” the friend is now doing wrong, and the older brother would become upset at the friend.

The small boy does not owe anything because it has been charged to his older brother’s account. The friend can say to the small boy, “To be a good guest in my home, you must stop running around,” but he must also say, “You do not owe me anything. You are free.”

Jesus is our older brother. He has paid for all our sins. So when someone hurts you with their sin, if you do not forgive them, it is like going to Jesus’ small brother or sister and saying, “You must pay for that.” That is why unforgiveness of your brother or sister in Christ is a sin.

Jesus knows that forgiveness can be very hard, especially if it is someone we love or someone who should be good to us that has done wrong to us. So Jesus gently reminds us in these verses, “I have also paid for you.” Without Jesus’ payment we would have no life at all.

This is the difference between forgiveness and reconciling.

Forgiveness is your choice. If a brother or sister does not repent, you can still say in your heart, “Jesus has paid what they owe me. It is between that person and Jesus now. Jesus will take care of it.” If you keep unforgiveness in your heart, that is sin.

Reconciling is fixing a relationship. It is like asking the small boy to stop running around the house. It takes the willingness of two people.

Because of this reconciliation is not always possible. The other person may be unwilling to reconcile. Or the other person may continue behaviors that harm you. If a person is abusive to you, God does not ask that you return to a harmful relationship.

God says, “In as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men.” In other words, forgive and be willing to reconcile, but realize it may not be possible.

Both forgiveness and reconciling can take time. You might forgive, then remember and become angry again, and need to forgive again. Jesus said to forgive 70 times 7, in other words, as often as you need to.

Reconciling can also take a long time because it usually means some behavior needs to change and people have to learn to trust each other again. It’s OK to start from a distance and slowly become closer again.

Only Jesus can change hearts. Forgiveness and reconciling can happen only by His power and His grace. He will gladly give you forgiveness, wisdom, strength and grace in your situation if you ask Him moment by moment as you need it.

Vs. 22

22 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.

When we have important guests coming, we tidy our house, prepare food and we try to make them as comfortable as possible. How much more do we want our hearts to be a pleasant place for our most important guest, Jesus, to be. When we forgive and reconcile, our hearts become a lovely dwelling place for Him. Then we enjoy fellowship with Him and with one another.


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