December 22
Philemon 1:3, 10-21

Be merciful

Paul wrote this short note to his friend Philemon asking him to forgive a slave of his who had run away:

“To Philemon, a dear friend and fellow-worker,

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I ask you to please show kindness to Onesimus (O-nesi-mus), who became like a son to me when he came to know the Lord while I was in prison.

Onesimus has not been of much use to you in the past, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. I am sending him back to you, and in a way, I am sad because I would have liked to keep him here with me. But I would not have done so without your permission.

Maybe Onesimus left you for a short while so that you could have him back, not as a slave, but as a brother. Please welcome him back as if you were welcoming me.”

Why should we be merciful to others?

In Paul’s time there were laws that gave the master of a slave complete power over his slave.

Philemon had every right to have his slave Onesimus killed for running away. However, he now had to choose whether to use his right to punish Onesimus, or listen to Paul and be merciful. What would you have done?

Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Every one of us has run away from God and deserves His punishment (Isaiah 53:6). But Jesus has been merciful by forgiving us and taking us back, not as slaves or servants, but as friends (John 15:15). That is true mercy!

Maybe one day you will be in a situation where, like Philemon, you must decide whether you will use an opportunity to get even with someone who wronged you, or whether you will show kindness and mercy.

Verse for today

So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. Galatians 4:7