Summary: In our text this morning, we find credit being extended. Paul the Apostle writes a letter and in essence he is saying – Whatever is owed, I don’t have Cash, therefore; I need you to Charge it to my Account. I am signing the slip now, put it on my credi
TITLE: CHARGE IT TO MY ACCOUNT
SCRIPTURE: PHILEMON 18-19
The CREDIT CARD has become the SYMBOL OF AMERICAN BUSINESS. Matter of fact, some suggest it is the LOGO and SYMBOL of our Country. It is the FRATERNITY PIN of the average American. It is the PASSPORT to plenty for a great many today. Anything can be bought with a credit card - from a gallon of gas to a ten gallon bucket - from a sandwich to a steak - from a night's lodging to a weekend Resort.
Whenever I travel or shop, I ordinarily look at the entrance window or door of the establishment. There we will usually find a DISPLAY OF INSIGNIAS of all the different credit cards they accept. There are signs that say WE ACCEPT ALL THESE and down underneath they add WE ALSO TAKE CASH. Do you know that there are some organizations that no longer accept Cash only take Credit Cards or Bank Cards. When a purchase is made in any department store in the United States today, the classic cliché of the salesperson is "CHARGE OR CASH?" and there's a slight look of disappointment if it's cash. You're immediately under suspicion when you're carrying that stuff around. I don’t know about you but I grow rather annoyed whenever I use a $20 bill or higher and the Cashier will hold it up to the light to ensure it is not counterfeit. However; very rarely will they ever verify my identity when using a credit card.
In our text this morning, we find credit being extended. Paul the Apostle writes a letter and in essence he is saying – Whatever is owed, I don’t have Cash, therefore; I need you to Charge it to my Account. I am signing the slip now, put it on my credit card, so you will know that I intend to pay this debt. Behind the statement of course is a story.
Philemon is a short book of only 25 verses tucked between TITUS and HEBREWS. It’s so short that you’ll never find it by accident. You have to be looking for it or else you’ll never even see it. I think we can sum up what this book is all about by mentioning three names to remember.
• PAUL - He is an apostle and the author of this letter. When it is written, he is in prison in Rome.
• PHILEMON - He is Christian slave owner who lives in the city of Colosse in Asia Minor (present day Turkey). He is clearly a close friend of Paul. Perhaps Paul personally led him to Christ (the latter church met in his house or at least the text implies that, however; we can’t be sure. We do know that this current church met in his house, which means he was certainly a respected Christian leader.
• ONESIMUS - He is a runaway slave who came to Rome where he met Paul who led him to Christ. It is possible—though again we cannot be certain—that he met Paul through his friendship with Philemon and that’s why he sought him out in Rome. In any case we know that after Paul led Onesimus to Christ, he stayed in Rome, serving Paul with deep gratitude.
That brings us to the central issue of this short letter. Paul now has a converted slave on his hands. What should he do? He decides to send Onesimus back to Philemon his master. But Onesimus is now a believer in Christ–he left a rebel and now returns as a brother. Paul wants to make sure Philemon understands what has happened. That’s why he writes this letter.
This little letter is a masterpiece of PERSUASION. If you want to know how to write a letter to someone you need to CONVINCE - study the way Paul approached Philemon. In the end, his APPEAL IS IRRESISTIBLE. He begins by reminding Philemon of his prayers on his behalf. He also says, “I know how much you love all of God’s children.” This puts a positive face on what he has to say later.
Paul has decided to send Onesimus back to Philemon. This he does even though he would have preferred to keep him in Rome. But Paul respected the laws of the day, and also trusted in Philemon’s Christian character to do the right thing.. The Question, I can’t help but to ask - Would Paul have sent him back if he had any doubts about what would happen? We simply do not know the answer to that question. It is a question that has been debated by Theologians for centuries.
And that’s what the brief letter of Philemon is all about. Paul pulls out all the stops in just 25 verses. He touches every positive motivation he can use—appealing all the while to love and not to duty. What is it that Paul wants Philemon to do with his returned slave?