Summary: Forgiveness in the Book of Philemon
Review of Study:
Message 1: Parts of Forgiveness ... principles, parables, personal
Message 2: Character of Forgiveness ... labor, loves, shares, refreshes
Message 3: Action of Forgiveness ... reception, restoration, restitution
I want you to understand that 4 messages on the subject of forgiveness do not tie up all the loose ends of understanding forgiveness. Forgiveness is a process not a formula to be done in a 1-2-3 manner. It might take months and years to come to the point for forgiving someone who has offended or sinned against you.
Remember we began by stating, "Forgiveness is the work of God in us." So let’s not short change the work of God.
Today we look at the fourth and final message from Philemon ... "The Motivation of Forgiveness." It looks into the "why" of forgiveness. The "why" is found in what motivates us to forgive.
Motivates: to provide with an incentive; move to action
Paul writes with a motive of forgiveness and nothing more. There are not "ulterior motives" involved ... just the forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration of the one who needs forgiving.
1. The Motivation of 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 hand writing is doing so for emphasis. Paul most of the time used a scribe ... but in this interest the need of urgency was so great he did the writing himself. Paul was taking a very personal interest in 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.
The point is ... forgive because you have been forgiven much. Don’t demand repayment. Remember the parable of the servant who had been forgiven such a large unable debt ... and refused to forgive a lesser debt owed to him.
Who are we indebted to? The Lord ... wife ... husband ... children ... church ... friends. That’s the point ... as we look about we understand we have all had to at one point or another forgive and be forgiven. In light of our debt owed to God ... we ought to forgive one another and others.
2. The Motivation of Blessing
Philemon 20 Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord.
Paul had already told Philemon of the refreshment he had been to others.
Philemon 1:7 For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.
Paul wanted to receive a blessing of joy ... derived from Philemon forgiving Onesimus. Have you thought about being a blessing to others, but forgiving those who have offended you? Others are watching us!
Philippians 2:2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
Are we a blessing to others in our forgiveness ... or a hindrance in our unforgiveness? The invested interest is reconciliation and unity. When we ... a part of God’s church forgive ... it pronounces a blessing in that we are doing what we are to be doing.
3. The Motivation of Obedience
Philemon 21 Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.
Paul is saying he has confidence in Philemon obeying and forgiving. Paul has not commanded forgiveness, but has encouraged forgiveness through the positive reinforcement of encouragement.
John 14:15 If you love Me, keep My commandments.
Obligation my be the point of our obedience ... but it ought to be love. We love God because through Christ he has forgiven us ... therefore let us love forgiveness and become obedient in it.
Colossians 3:12-13 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
o Whose we are ... forgiven of God.
o What we wear ... outfitted with forgiveness.
o What we do ... forgive as forgiven.
Paul says I am confident you will forgive out of your desire to obey.
4. The Motivation of Accountability
Philemon 22 But, meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you.
Paul was holding Philemon accountable ... when he came Philemon would have explain what he did ... forgive or not forgive. Paul was exercising a bit of spiritual authority.
Today most do not like accountability ... we like the free willing of doing what I want and when I want. But in the kingdom of God there is always accountability.