Summary: Sermon about the man called Onesimus.
As we begin a New Year, many of us are looking to do something new. Even while we are in Iraq, we want to take the opportunity of the New Year and have a fresh start.
I always enjoy a fresh start. I enjoy writing in my journal and it is always exciting for me to complete a book and begin a new one. I look at the blank pages and dream of the masterpiece that will fill it. I completed one while I have been here and I’m coming close to the end of the second. I also like to start each journal studying a book on writing at the same time. I enjoy a fresh start.
Many of us joined the Army for a fresh start. Some of you took it as a fresh start away from home. Some of you took it as a fresh start from a life that had no purpose. Some of you took it as a way to, one day, have a fresh start in college. Regardless of the reason, many of us joined the Army as a fresh start.
We all need fresh starts in our life. Tonight we are going to look at a man named Onesimus. He was truly given a fresh start. He once was a criminal, now he is returning to his master with a fresh start.
Look with me a Philemon verses 10-12
8 Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, 9 yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ— 10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.
12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, (Phm 10-12, NKJV)
It is very obvious, in this passage, that
I. Onesimus has a friend in Paul.
Paul was writing to Philemon from prison. So, in the first several verses Paul greats Philemon. He has a warm introduction and a genuine one. But then Paul gets to the heart of the message.
Philemon Verse 8-10
8 Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, 9 yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ (Phm 8-9, NKJV)
Paul pleads with Philemon that he will show kindness to Onesimus.
Paul was sharing friendship in one of the truest ways friendship can be shown. Paul was writing a letter of recommendation to Philemon. Paul was putting his reputation on the line to stand up for Onesimus.
I remember putting a packet in the Southern Baptist Convention to request endorsement to became a Chaplain. I had to give several questionnaires and forms to different people for this recommendation. This is always a humbling experience. But, I guess those people gave good recommendation, because here I am.
Its good to have friends you can count on. Not only to simply give a good recommendation but to help you through life itself.
The last part of verse 10 shows a deeper relationship with Paul rather than just a cell mate.
10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, (Phm 10, NKJV)
This verse shows that Paul had ministered to Onesimus. Paul had spent time with Onesimus. He could honestly describe his character. I’m sure Paul had taken time to explain the scriptures to him and to explain to Onesimus about the gospel. I’m sure that the relationship didn’t stop after Onesimus left the prison – It didn’t with Titus, or Timothy, or Churches that Paul started. Paul was a true friend who stuck by his friends.
When starting fresh, we all could use friends. An English publication once held a contest for the best definition of the word friend; the Winner of this contest was this:
“A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.”
(Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : Garland TX: Bible Communications. #1792.)
I hear people frequently tell me that they don’t go to church because they don’t believe you have to go to church to be a Christian. And on one hand, that’s true. Technically, all you have to do is accept Christ as your Lord and Savoir.
However, the Bible commands that we belong to a body of believers.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says;
24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Heb. 10:24-25, NKJV)