Summary: Sermon based upon the book of Philemon. Illustrates the plight of Philemon to forgive Onesimus and how Paul aided in the process.
Read the Book of Philemon
A. Name means "Useful" - But wasn’t very useful
B. Slave of Philemon
1. Unlike slaves in America
2. Slaves were more like employees
3. Often were paid
C. Caused Philemon to lose some money
1. Criminal intent - Money Stolen
2. On Accident - Incompetence or improper business practices
D. For whatever reason, Onesimus ran away
1. Had to travel 900 - 1500 miles to Rome
A. Imprisoned in Rome
B. House arrest - People allowed to come and go, but Paul could not leave the house.
C. Paul - a man of integrity
1. Somehow meets up with Onesimus
2. Paul does what Paul does best: Shares with him the Gospel
a. Vs. 10 - I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains.
3. When Paul learns of his master and status of Slave, Paul knows that he must return Onesimus to Philemon
a. A runaway slave is very serious charge
b. Same as a military person being AWOL.
4. Sends Onesimus back.
a. Wants him to stay, but since God wants a cheerful giver, lets Philemon decide whether or not to send him back.
D. Paul - Son of Encouragement
1. Barnabas , whose name means "Son of Encouragement" must have rubbed off on Paul
2. Paul becomes a great encouragement to Onesimus
3. Writes this letter to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus.
a. Tells of the conversion
b. Onesimus finally lives up to his name
(1) Vs. 11 - Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
c. I am sending him - Who is my very heart - back to you.
A. Philemon has a choice to make
1. Accept Onesimus Back
2. Punish him as a runaway slave
B. Philemon has been hurt by Onesimus
1. Onesimus has cost him dearly
2. Now Philemon is being asked to welcome him back not only as a slave, but as a Brother in the Lord.
C. Paul knew Philemon would have a hard time forgiving
1. Charge it to my tab
2. And don’t forget that you still owe me.
D. Forgiveness is difficult
1. We must put others in front of ourselves and we don’t like that
2. We like to harbor grudges. As long as there is no forgiveness, we have a logical reason to treat the other party poorly.
3. ILLUSTRATION: Corrie Ten Boom
Corrie ten Boom likenened forgiveness to letting go of a bell rope. If you have ever seen a country church with a bell in the steeple, you will remember that to get the bell ringing you have to tug awhile.
Once it has begun to ring, you merely maintain the momentum. As long as you keep pulling, the bell keeps ringing. Miss ten Boom said forgiveness is letting go of the rope. It is just that simple. But when you do so, the bell keeps ringing. Momentum is still at work.
However, if you keep your hands off the rope, the bell will begin to slow and eventually stop.
It is like that with forgiveness. When you decided to forgive, the old feelings of unforgiveness may continue to assert themselves. After all, they have lots of momentum. But if you affirm your decision to forgive, that unforgiving spirit will begin to slow and will eventually be still. Forgiveness is not something you feel, it is something you do. It is letting go of the rope of retribution.
4. ILLUSTRATION: The Forgiveness Flower
One day when Stan Mooneyham was walking along a trail in East Africa with some friends, he became aware of a delightful odor that filled the air. He looked up in the trees and around at the bushes in an effort to discover where it was coming from. Then his friends told him to look down at the small blue flower growing along the path. Each time they crushed the tiny blossoms under their feet, more of its sweet perfume was released into the air. Then his friends said, "We call it the forgiveness flower."
This forgiveness flower does not wait until we ask forgiveness for crushing it. It does not release its fragrance in measured doses or hold us to a reciprocal arrangement. It does not ask for an apology; it merely lives up to its name and forgives-freely, fully, richly.
What a touching example of outrageous forgiveness!
E. Forgiveness is Necessary
1. Sin separates us from God and from each other
2. God has called us to be One body. Jesus prayed for it in John 17.
3. When hurts are left unforgiven, we cease to be one body and become divided.
F. Whether or not Philemon forgave Onesimus is not known