17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20 I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.
The introduction to this letter states that Paul is writing to Philemon, a friend of Paul’s and a leader in the church at Colosse. Paul is writing on behalf of Onesimus, who had been a slave of Philemon, until he stole money, ran away, met Paul and became a Christian. Paul was in prison and Onesimus has been caring for him, but now Paul is sending Onesimus back to his friend Philemon.
What is meaningful to me is that Paul is willing to take on any debt Onesimus might owe Philemon, because Paul doesn’t want there to be any hindrance between them. It’s one thing to tell another to forgive, but Paul backs up his words with a vow to take on any debt that might be owed. Oh, and by the way, Onesimus, you owe me your very life, so what’s a small monetary debt in comparison?
What a great thing Paul does in paving the way for these two men to be reconciled, and even more, to want to erase the former status of master and slave so that they may be brothers in Christ. Maybe there is someone you know who has become alienated, separated from another person. Is there a way you could be a channel of reconciliation, the way Paul was for Onesimus and Philemon? May God work through you to help someone in need.
Dear God, I lift up those I know and care about. If there is someone who has become separated from another because of an argument or injustice, is there a way I might help them overcome their issues? Maybe I am the one who has become alienated from another. Is there anything I can do to solve the problem? Help me do what is loving and right, for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.