Summary: We have been purchased by the blood of Christ. We have been found to be useful by the King. Running away from God is not fullfiling the purpose that we have been called. Remember the slave tag, "If I should escape seize me and send me back to my master."
Return Me To The Master
Reference: Philemon 1:1-25
Reverend Daniel A. Wheat
Introduction: Have any of you ever asked someone to write a letter of recommendation? Have you ever received an evaluation from a supervisor on your work performance? Ever get a love letter that made you really miss someone badly? The letter of Philemon that we are studying today is a little bit of all of that rolled up into one. It was written by Paul the Apostle to a dear friend of his concerning a run away slave. This letter was written in response to the slave’s conversion and so He was writing on his behalf.
Now before we begin I want to point something very important out to you that I do not want you to miss out on. When I come home from a hard days work and I really want my wife to make a really nice dinner for me there is one thing I do. I lavish her with compliments. Does that sound familiar to anyone else? When we want something we usually remind whoever how great they are, how they occupy a special place in our heart, and how our lives are blessed by their friendship. Well, here Paul starts it no differently to his friend. Lets read.
Read: Philemon 1:1-7
What is Paul doing. He is showering his friend with appreciation. Now I am not trying to facetious when I say this but he is really laying it on thick here. Paul does have a genuine appreciation for his friend but he was trying to put him in the right mood for the rest of the letter. He also wanted to show him that his place in the Kingdom of God was appreciated greatly because of his service. We will soon see why this is being done.
Read: Philemon 1:8
If someone brought you to the place of salvation and acceptance of the Lord as your Savior what would the price tag on that be? You see those credit card commercials lately? There is one in particular that caught my eye.
It will say something to the effect of ..Swimming trunks - $20.00, trip to Bermuda with the family - $2,000.00, children laughing – PRICELESS. Do you understand what I am saying here. Our salvation is PRICELESS.
You cannot put a price tag on something like that. Christ saved us from sin not because we can do anything to repay Him or because we deserved it. It was out of pure love. You see what Paul is saying here is that the gift that he brought his friend to was priceless. There is nothing that could repay such a gift as showing him who the Savior is. So what is his point in doing this? Lets see.
Read: Philemon 1:9-11
Paul is writing on behalf of a slave? What in the world for? You see Onesimus had run away and somehow found Paul. In the midst of their meeting Paul led him to know Christ. In doing this Onesimus was now not a slave to man but to the Lord for His purpose. And from one believer to another he needed to be treated differently.
You see here is the interesting thing about this name Onesimus. First of all it was a common name for a slave back then. It was like the name Jones or Smith of today. The other interesting fact is that it means “USEFUL” in Greek. This is why Paul plays on the word in verse 11. Onesimus has become useful to his friend, to Paul and know to the Lord.
When we accept Christ we are found to be useful to Him for his purpose. We belong to the Master.
Read: Philemon: 1:12-16
Paul reiterates the importance of his conversion and how this impacts the relationship he once had with him. He also sets forth the reasoning behind why he found Paul in the first place. Doesn’t God have a plan for everyone? He has a purpose that is carried out when we are faithful to Him.
The Psalmist writes: We may plan our paths but the Lord directs our path.
You see we all have choices, free will and the ability to discern them. But, ultimately God wants us to know Him and the fulfillment that comes through that in our lives.
Read: Philemon 1:17-25
We finally see that Paul sums up his letter in saying that let me pay his debt so that he can be useful again in a more excellent way. Christ paid our debt and granted us grace and mercy to be useful. Are you being useful in remembering at what price you were purchased?
Conclusion: Today we have spoke of slavery to sin and being redeemed by the Savior. Let me take just a moment in closing to reveal something to you. There used to be metal tags attached to slaves of that time. On these simple round tags were written these words, “If I should escape seize me and return me to my master”. I know that if you do not yet know Christ that you have been runaway from Him for a long time. I also know that many of us who have known Him for years have slipped away in the darkness and run away from His voice.