My home group is studying through the book of Philemon. This one chapter wonder is a great compliment to our recently completed study of Colossians. Seems that Paul while in prison has led a runaway slave to Christ and is high on this young man with a checkered past. It seems young Onesimus has run away from his believer master Philemon possibly after taking some of Philemon stuff with him.
This is the shortest book in the Bible a mere 335 words, but it is jammed packed with great insight. The modern reader would think the jest would talking about the ills of slavery and Paul’s denouncement of it. And even though he does at time seem to hint as to this possible outcome, I found the most compelling argument was one of expectations. Specifically, Paul fully expected Philemon to be mature in this situation.
He talks about Philemon’s refreshing of the saints, his hosting of the church at Colossae, and his partnership with Paul in the gospel. And because of all that he tells Philemon that he assumes that he will not only forgive but also receive him as a beloved brother in the faith. Oh and by the way if he owes Philemon anything that he should charge it to Paul’s account.
As I read the book it occurs to me that the outcome Paul hopes for is very reachable, and is a reasonable result- for the mature. Not everyone would be able to let an egregious act like this just pass by. But the mature would. The mature how are being demarked by the fruits of the Spirit- specifically love would let a trespass pass.