How does brotherly love really work? How does it work in situations of extraordinary tension and difficulty? The book of Philemon is a model of Christian friendship, of forgiveness, of both tact and diplomacy on one hand and of contact and straightforwardness on the other. Philemon is all about “the fine art of Christian relationships.” Keywords include “accept” and “receive,” “appeal” and “encourage, “grace” and “joy” along with the word “love.”
Here are just a few of the incredible relationship lessons contained in the book of Philemon.
- Real relationships legitimately DO touch the heart (1, 9, 10, 13, 23).
- Real relationships acknowledge genuine godliness and character (4-7).
- Real relationships are honest about wrongdoing and express desire to make things right (18-19).
- Real relationships BELIEVE in what God can do in others. They can think of Onesimus as a “son” and as “profitable” (10-11). They can believe Philemon will do “even more” than asked (21).
- Real relationships are willing to vouch for the change and transformation that occurs due to the Lord (11).
- Real relationships know when to plead as a friend and when to command as one in authority (8-9).
- Real relationships focus on God and His providential care (see verse15 and note the constant references to God and Jesus throughout the book).
- Real relationships anticipate a sweet reunion! (22).
These thoughts all bring to mind the words of our Lord: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another” (John 13:34-35).