Summary: Sermon explores in depth Philemon 4-7; the character of Philemon - a foriver. Noteably 1)his faith in Christ 2.)his unconditional love 3.) his demonstrable fellowship 4.) his refreshment of others
INSIGHT INTO A FORGIVER’S HEART
A few years ago I was deeply hurt by a fellow believer (Bob)
· I was slandered
· Lied to
· Eventually lost my job largely due to this one man.
For 6 months after the event, the effects of the intensity of that situation would linger
· I would have frequent nightmares
· I would replay conversations I have with this man in my mind, thinking of what I could have said or should have said
· Every time his face or name was mentioned, my heart rate would increase and my stomach would churn
· Have you ever been there?
One day I found myself on a long car ride with my wife and two great friends. One of my friends asked me “Have you forgiven him?”
· Since Bob had never asked for my forgiveness and most likely never will – what my friend was really asking me was “Would I be willing to forgive Bob if he asked?”
· I thought about that question – “Am I ready to forgive?”
o I think so
o I guess I’ll never know for certain unless I see him again
o Now Bob lived half way across the country – the odds of me seeing him again were a million to 1.
5 months ago, I was checking into a LA Hotel when a familiar face passed me in the lobby
· my heart rate increased
· stomach churned
· only one person could have that affect on me – Bob
He didn’t see me. Or maybe he did, and continued past.
I could have done nothing and he would have walked out of the lobby; play the odds that we would never see each other again
But something compelled me to run after him. Tap him on the shoulder and as he turned. I said Bob, it’s great to see you and give him a hug.
That something that compelled me was the grace of God. And as we spoke with a smile on my face, I sincerely meant everything I said as aI wished him well.
He never asked for my forgiveness. But if he had, I know I would have in a heart beat extended him the forgiveness that he asked for.
Through that experience God taught me about the power of forgiveness – that a forgiving heart can heal 100x faster than a heart that takes into account wrong suffered.
- What about you (stories differ – common denominator is forigiveness)
If you don’t have something to forgive at present, you soon will. (back to Philemon)
C.S. Lewis once said “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea, until he has something to forgive.”
Are you are ready to forgive when the time comes?
In Philemon 4-7, we want to examine 4 characteristics from the heart of a forgiver so that you and I will be ready and able to forgive when the time comes.
STAND AND READ PHILEMON 1-7
A. Writer: Paul (writing from a Roman prison)
B. Recipient: Philemon (explain others who would read)
C. Reason: forgive Onesimus (explain)
Paul’s first comment to Philemon is one of thanksgiving. He wants to let Philemon know that he has thanked God on a continual basis by making mention of Philemon’s name in his prayers.
Thanksgiving in prayer was a common practice of Paul.
· Rom 8:8 “First, I thank my God though Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world”
· 1 Cor. 1:4 “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus
· Phil. 1:3 “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all
· Col. 1:3 “We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you”
Paul found delight in praying continually for his flock. Philemon wan no exception. But the insight into a forgivers heart lies in what Paul was thankful for.
The first characteristic of a forgiver’s heart:
A. YOUR FAITH IS IN CHRIST (V. 5)
“…because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus…” (chiasmus)
Paul had a basis for his praying on behalf of Philemon. He tells of two things that encouraged him in his continued prayer for Philemon; first, “hearing of the faith”
Paul was continually hearing of Philemon’s faith in Jesus Christ.
· Akouwn – Present tense – indicates a continual action. It could have been that Paul was receiving up to date information about Philemon from more than one source, or that he was getting regular reports about how Philemon was progressing in his faith.