Summary: Part 4 of a study of Philemon
Ambition of Forgiveness
Studying through this small book in the New Testament we have seen great truths and have been challenged as we all face opportunities to offer and possibly even receive forgiveness.
· First we looked at “The Ability of Forgiveness.” During this look we focused on The Principle Part of Forgiveness- Principle 1: Forgive those who sin against us. (Matthew 6:12; Matthew 18:21-22). Principle 2: Forgive and be forgiven. (Matthew 6:14; Luke 6:37) Principle 3: Don’t forgive and you won’t be forgiven. (Matthew 6:15; Mark 11:25). Also we saw the The Parable Part of Forgiveness- The Prodigal Son - Forgiving like God (Luke 15:18-20) and The Unforgiving Servant - Unforgiving like Man (Matthew 18:26-30). And last The Personal Part of Forgiveness
· Our second message took a look at The Attribute of Forgiveness and how it Labors; Loves; Participates; and Refreshes.
· Our third message tuned in on The Activity of Forgiveness and how it brings Reception; Restoration; and Restitution.
This is our fourth and final message from Philemon ... "The Ambition of Forgiveness." Let me begin by sharing a few real life stories with you:
Story 1: Heaviness of Hatred (Restitution)
Each week Kevin Tunell was required to mail a dollar to a family he’d rather forget. They sued him for $1.5 million but settled for $936, to be paid a dollar at a time. The family expects the payment each Friday so Tunell won’t forget what happened on the first Friday of 1982.That the day their daughter was killed. Tunnell was convicted of manslaughter and drunken driving. He was seventeen. She was eighteen. Tunell served a court sentence. He also spent seven years campaigning against drunk driving, six years more than his sentence required. But he keeps forgetting to send the dollar. The weekly restitution is to last until the year 2000. Eighteen years. Tunell make the out to the victim, mails it to her family, and the money is deposited in a scholarship fund. The family has taken him to court four times for failure to comply. After the most recent appearance, Tunell spent thirty days in jail. He insists that he’s not defying the order but rather is haunted by the girl’s death and tormented by the reminders. He offered the family two boxes of checks covering the payments until the year 2001, one year more than required. They refused. It’s not the money they seek but penance. Quoting the mother, "We want to receive the check every week on time. He must understand we are going to pursue this until August of the year 2000. We will go back to court every month if we have to." (Max Lucado, In the Grip of Grace)
Story 2: The Dynamic in Forgiveness (Restoration)
Bishop Donald Tippett was in his office one day when two young men dropped in, hoping to establish an alibi for their planned robbery. When the bishop took a phone call in another room, the young men feared he had sized them up and was about to report them. They attacked him with brass knuckles, doing permanent damage to his left eye. When the two men came to trial, Tippet pleaded for a reduced sentence. He visited them regularly in prison. After the young men were released, the bishop helped one of them financially to further his education and eventually saw him become (of all things!) an ophthalmologist. Tippet expressed his forgiveness of these men by persevering in returning good for evil.
Paul writes with an ambition or a motive of forgiveness and nothing more. There are no "ulterior motives" involved ... just the forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration of the one who needs forgiving.
I. The Debt
Philemon 19; “I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay; not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides.”
Paul mentioning his own handwriting is doing so for emphasis. Paul most of the time used a scribe but in this instant the need of urgency was so great he did the writing himself. Paul was taking a very personal interest in this relationship between Philemon and Onesimus.
A debt was owed on both accounts.
· Onesimus owed a physical debt ... Philemon a spiritual debt.
· Onesimus owed a temporal debt ... Philemon an eternal debt.
Not only was Onesimus saved because of the ministry of Paul but Philemon was probably as well. Remember, Paul while establishing these new churches usually did so at his own cost. He worked another job; probably as a tentmaker we are told, to meet his financial needs. He was never a burden to the church. Philemon owed Paul for his work in the ministry…
The point is, in light of our debt owed to God ... we ought to forgive one another and others.