Intro: In the past two weeks we have studied the personal yet powerful letter from Paul to Philemon. It is very interesting to note the word forgiveness is never mentioned in this little letter. However much is said about forgiveness by the apostle Paul. Don’t forget the call to put flesh on our faith. Our life is not our own we were bought with a price so we are to glorify God in our bodies. One of the most powerful ways to put flesh on our faith is to find ourselves on the road to forgiveness? Why the road to forgiveness? For those of you that are visual I hope it helps you to draw a picture of what Paul is encouraging us to do.
A report from the September 27, 2004 edition of Newsweek magazine was The New Science of Mind & Body. Persistent unforgiveness can impact your physical and mental health. There is a connection between our emotions and good health. The article says what the Bible has said for thousands of years. Doing the opposite of what God tells us to do is unhealthy not only spiritually but physically as well! Unforgiveness as can affect your memory, heart heath, and a host of other health problems. It is what God has told us all along you will be crazy and crippled If you continue to live your life outside the boundaries God has established for health for your entire person.
So incarnating the life of Jesus is not only healthy spiritually it impacts your physical well being! Again we do not have a Father who is a fuddy-dud instead we have a father looking out for our spiritual, physical and emotional well being.
Proverbs 3.5-6 tell us to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.”
What direction or what path is Paul directing Onesimus and Philemon and you on in this letter?
He is directing us to the road to forgiveness.
I. Restoration relationally
What is the Road to Forgiveness paved with for the one asking forgiveness?
A) Real Repentance (1.12)
I’m willing to come back to you. I have been forgiven by Christ and I want to ask forgiveness of the way I treated you. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make our relationship right. In the old testament one of the words used for repentance means to return to, in the new a change of mind. Onesimus had changed his mind about how to relate to his master Philemon. Through his relationship with Jesus and encouragement by Paul her returned to see what God could do with their relationship.
Why do many of us not return to those we hurt? We live with fear rather than faith. Don’t let fear keep God from being faithful to restore what you broke. Why can we trust God to take away our sin that separates us from Him but not our sin that separates us from each other?
B) Real Change that takes place (1.10-11)
There was a transformation in Onesimus. His name means useful. However Paul says he was useless before. Something dramatic happened in Onesimus’ life. What was it? It was the reality of knowing Jesus and His forgiveness and grace.
What does an encounter with Jesus do? If you look at most Christians today it does absolutely nothing. Jesus came to offer us grace so we could know God. It is the knowing of God’s grace and forgiveness that radically alters everything about us. Zaccheus, Paul, Peter, People in this body of believers. It changes the way we look at the world and others. To ask forgiveness means that we must see a need to be forgiven.
My discussion at Wal-Mart. Employee that didn’t see the need to be forgiven of sin that he didn’t believe he committed.
C) Rebuilding Trust (1.12)
Why must you make the choice to go back to someone you’ve hurt? Because you broke something! When you do something that is hurtful and harmful you break the trust that is essential in a relationship.
What many want to day is to be let off the hook for what they have done. Oh no I was caught will you forgive me? Translated, will you not hold me accountable for the unbiblical and unrighteous, unhealthy way I treated you.
If you’ve hurt someone what are you willing to do to rebuild trust?
II. Transformation permanently
A) Reception of the one who wronged you (Philemon 1.15-16)
“Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother”
Is there a separation in your relationship with anyone? Perhaps this is happening so that you might have them back as a brother. Perhaps so that you can receive them not as someone who hurt you but someone who Jesus died for just like you!
Is it possible that God is speaking to you to have the right spirit to receive someone back that hurt you? Maybe God is trying to show you something about yourself that you can’t see otherwise.
B) Release of the wrong that imprisons you
1.18 “If he has done you any wrong charge it to me.”
Jackie Kendall says “a lot of Christians are not liberated because we are unrealistic about forgiveness. Being offended means we have a pulse – anyone can offend us. Being offended is inevitable; staying offended is our choice to sin.”
When we are not willing to let go of our hurt we allow it to hold on to us.
“When you are a prisoner of Jesus Christ you are free from everything else.”
Are you willing to do for others what Jesus did for you? Do you want to see permanent transformation in your life? Release the wrong. Release the hurt, release the unforgiveness.
Why on earth should I do this? They will probably just do it again.
1) God’s ability to turn evil to good
2) Your heath spiritually and physically
3) Your relationship to God (Jesus said in Matthew 6.15) (broken fellowship)
Grapevine faith academy football team playing Gainesville state school. (Tell story)
One of the boys from the Gainesville team said people looked at us like animals that belonged in a cage, like we didn’t deserve a second chance.
Tell story of Jim Elliot and Nate Saints children being baptized by Aucha Indians that speared their parents.
Conclusion: The road to forgiveness is not paved with good intentions it is paved with intentionality. Forgiveness comes from choosing reception instead of rejection of those who have harmed you, intentional release of the wrong.
Today I want you to take the paper you have in your bulletin and on the top have write down the poeple who have wronged you. When you leave here today spend time with your fahter releasing the hurt and pain then destroy that paper in whatever way you see fit. The paper has not power it is your time with your father and releasing the hurt to Him that will free you.
On the bottom half of the paper write down anyone you have hurt. Spend time with your father and the go and make it right and destroy the bottom half of the paper.