Saturday, November 17, 2012

Refreshing Benefits of Forgiveness

Philemon 20 Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.

For the past few days we have been exploring the major themes of forgiveness in Philemon.  Thus far we have discovered the following truths:

The hub of Christian identity is forgiveness - Philemon 1-3
The heart behind forgiveness is God's love - Philemon 4-9
The appeal to forgive finds its beginning and end in the cross - Philemon 10-19

In today's blog we want to round out this study of Philemon by noting the refreshing benefits of forgiveness.  As we saw in the above verse, Philemon's positive response to Paul's appeal to forgive Onesimus will undoubtedly "refresh" Paul's heart.  Forgiveness benefits both the forgiver and the forgiven in the following ways:

1. Godly living will flow from delight, not just duty. 
As Paul writes in Philemon 20-21: "Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say."  

2. Godly insights will become more available.
Philemon 22 tells us: "22At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you."

3. Godly fellowship will grow sweeter.
We read in Philemon 23-24: "Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers."  Notice all of the wonderful people that can be opened up to us when we forgive.  Not only does forgiveness open our lives up to let the light of the Lord shine in, but also to let the fellowship of other Christians be more sweeter and precious.

4. God's grace will operate more freely.
We discover in Philemon 25: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit". When you and I forgive, its not that we have to beg God for the grace needed to live with whatever consequences or whatever cost forgiveness may have to absorb.  Rather, by forgiving, we are stepping into grace already available.