Summary: Part 2 in a study through Philemon
The Importance of Forgiveness.
The Attribute of Forgiveness
I enjoy reading John MacArthur. He makes a very interesting comment regarding the topic of forgiveness; "We live obviously in a society that knows little about forgiveness. We live in a society that cares little about forgiveness. In fact I would think that one of the major contributors if not the major contributor to the destruction of relationships in our culture is the absence of forgiveness."
Last week we began a series of messages on the topic of forgiveness. I often make this comment while preaching messages on evangelism but this topic puts each and every one of us in a very dangerous position just like every other Biblical topic; when we hear the truth of God’s Word, we must respond. So to hear (or read) this message on forgiveness we must deal with areas of unforgiveness in our own lives.
We notice in our introduction of this series…3 Principles of Forgiveness
· Principle 1: Forgive those who sin against us.
· Principle 2: Forgive and be forgiven.
· Principle 3: Don’t forgive and you won’t be forgiven.
Also at the close of last weeks message we took a brief look at the book and person of Philemon and the situation he found himself in.
· Philemon’s slave, Onesimus, had stolen from him and ran away to the city of Rome.
· While in Rome, Onesimus came across the apostle Paul and was led to salvation in Christ Jesus.
· Now Paul is sending this saved slave back to his owner with a letter asking him to forgive and receive Onesimus back.
Many of us have the wrong idea of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a matter of over looking the wrong that has been done, but rather dealing with it so both parties can move on. If you were in this situation that Philemon was in, how would you handle it? Would you forgive or withhold forgiveness based upon the facts and the hurt done to you?
Paul had already written much about forgiveness in his prison letters to the Ephesians and Colossians.
· We have forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus… Eph 1:7, Col 1:14
· We must forgive others as God has forgiven us… Eph 4:32
· We are made alive in Christ through the forgiveness of our trespasses… Col 2:13
· We should bear with one another and forgive one another… Col 3:13
Notice of the pattern Paul uses. He reminds us our forgiveness in Christ Jesus and then asks that we forgive. To understand we have been forgiven and then to seek to forgive speaks of the attribute of forgiveness
How you forgive has something to say about your attributes or how you are. An attribute is a distinguishing feature or character of an individual.
Forgiveness and the godly ability to forgive is forged out of the adversity of being insulted and injured from the injustices of this life.
Romans 5:3-5; “And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was give to us.”
I. The Attribute of Forgiveness Labors (1-3)
Philemon 1-3; “Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy, our brother: To Philemon, our dear friend and co-worker, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church that meets in your house. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul often identifies himself as a "prisoner" or a “bond servant” of Christ Jesus. Paul was not living life on his own; he had a Master, and that Master was Christ Jesus. His life was not his own but Christ’s.
The first character of forgiveness is it "labors."
He reminds Philemon of the laboring character that was visible in him. Philemon was a "co-laborer" who was working the same work as Paul. Their lives were to be entwined with the business of the Father.
· At a young age Jesus told his mother; "I must be about my Father’s business." (Luke 2:49) And then later on while paying the greatest cost for our sins
· Jesus on the cross announced; "Father forgive them …" (Luke 23:34)
The earthly ministry of Jesus was to finish the work of redemption, reconciliation and the offer of forgiveness to a sinful world.
So the attribute of a child of God must also be that of forgiveness.
A man in conversation with John Wesley once made the comment, "I never forgive." Wesley wisely replied, "Then, sir, I hope that you never sin."
Those who learn to forgive are those who have experienced God’s grace and peace. God’s grace toward us forgives us and His peace allows us to know we are forgiven.