Paul’s tender love for both Philemon and Onesimus is evident in this short letter, isn’t it? If the message of the Gospel could be boiled down, it’s all about forgiveness. And Paul, who at one time persecuted Christians, even to the point of holding the cloaks of those who stoned Stephen to death, could speak first-hand about being forgiven. Jesus appeared to Paul in a vision, as he was headed to Damascus on another mission to persecute Christians and asked him, “Saul, why do you persecute me?”
I won’t recount the whole story here, but Paul, whose original name was Saul, was convinced that Jesus is the Messiah, and lived the rest of his life serving the God who forgave him. Asking Philemon to forgive Onesimus as Jesus forgave him was at once a “big ask” and completely in character with who Saul became once Jesus got hold of his heart and changed his name to Paul.
If we who have been forgiven of so much cannot find it in our hearts to forgive those who do wrong to us, I think it’s time to reevaluate.
Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love.” Is that how the world knows us?