“Yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love.” v. 9

When our kids were young, it was often the case that conflict between them required their dad or me to step into the role of advocate, helping them to find a way forward through forgiveness. When one had wronged the other, we taught them that simply saying “Sorry” was not enough, that seeking forgiveness means that our hearts must be involved.  Together we looked to Jesus and his great love to show us the way. He was and is our perfect example. Children, though, aren’t the only ones in need of someone to walk alongside them in the journey of forgiveness.

Even as adults, we may know in our heads that we’ve been called to forgive in the same way that we’ve been forgiven through Christ, but our hearts struggle to get there in practice.  Perhaps our feelings have turned to bitterness and we don’t even want to know where to start. It is sometimes easier to just ignore it. At other times we can find ourselves minimizing our responsibility to do anything at all to restore a relationship. Instead, we leave it up to the other person to make the first move. The result is that we’re stuck and not living out the reality of the gospel in our daily lives. We miss the incredible opportunity to be living examples of the radical love and forgiveness of Jesus to others.

In Paul’s very brief and personal letter to Philemon, we see a beautiful picture of what it can look like to step into the brokenness and hurt with others, calling those with damaged relationships to pursue forgiveness through and because of Jesus’ great love for us. While the master/slave dynamic between Philemon and Onesimus certainly placed Philemon in the position of power between the two men, Paul stepped in to help them live out their greater identity as brothers in Christ. He could have written very differently, but he was compelled by love for both men, to help them experience the joy and peace that comes through forgiveness.

Take a few moments today to consider how you might need a Paul to help you pursue forgiveness toward someone who has hurt you. What would it look like for you to reach out to those around you who may be stuck and in need of gospel encouragement to pursue forgiveness? How might your willingness to come alongside others in love be used by God to bring about reconciliation and restoration?

Nicole Jiles
FaithKids Director

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