Read: Philemon 15-16
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.
One of the most telling phrases in the letter that Paul wrote on behalf of Onesimus to Philemon concerned their future relationship. The restoration programme Paul had begun with Onesimus had already achieved so much. He had discovered a change of heart and a change of mind, which, together with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit and the help of a fellow-believer, meant that he had begun to live up to his name. The next phase was for him to go back to Philemon as a servant, but in doing so he would have to seek to build a relationship with his employer as a brother in the Lord.
Eventually Onesimus would have taken his courage in both hands and returned to Philemon. On reaching Philemon’s home he would have known it was not the end of the journey but just beginning. He would have received a welcome that was very different from the scourging he would have played out in his mind on each step of his outward journey. Paul had assured him that he had written ahead but there was still work to be done.
In Rome Onesimus had discovered a forgiveness that now had to be lived out in practice. A relationship had to be re-built and it had to be a relationship of mutual trust. Onesimus had things to prove, but he had the proof of God’s faithfulness as his starting point.
Let us remember that, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.