Day 36 - Freedom in chains

Read: Philemon 10

THEME: Living up to a name can be hard work. All it takes is for someone, maybe even ourselves, to set a target that makes us feel incompetent. Our role-model for turning this around is a runaway servant named Onesimus.

Onesimus means ‘useful’ but he had reached the point where he felt anything but useful and, with his head filled with hopes of escaping to a better life, he had run to Rome. He looked for freedom. Freedom from failure! Freedom from his circumstances! Freedom from himself! And found nothing but disappointment.

Then he went to see a man in chains – a man of whom he had heard frequently during his days as a servant – an itinerant preacher whose preaching, according to his former employer, Philemon, had changed his life. It was the ultimate ironic first-time encounter. Paul was free, despite his chains, and Onesimus was more ensnared than ever, despite his bid for freedom.

The transformation that occurred in Onesimus was a testimony to the power of the life-changing message that Paul shared with him, speaking of Christ’s givenness for us on the cross and the hope that springs from His resurrection. It enabled Onesimus to face the truth that we can only live up to a name when we have been set free to be who we are meant to be in Christ.

That which was true for Onesimus is also true for us.

Let us not think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of truth.