Philemon 14, 18 “But without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion, but of your own free will…But if Onesimus has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account.”

Observation: Onesimus was a slave who had run away from his master, Philemon. In his running he met Paul who led him to faith in Christ. Following his conversion, Onesimus wanted to set things right with Philemon. The normal punishment for a runaway slave would have been death, so Paul wrote this wonderful letter of intercession.

Application: This short letter is a beautiful illustration of the power of humility and forgiveness to transform lives and relationships. Paul was unwilling to order Philemon to do anything, even though he had the right and authority to do so. Rather, he wanted Philemon to have the joy of having been obedient out of his own free will rather than steal that joy by requiring certain things of Philemon.

Then in verse 18, Paul pulls out the big guns of logic. He told Philemon that if Onesimus had truly wronged Philemon in any way, Philemon was to charge that to Paul’s account, which, by the way, had an unlimited credit since Paul had apparently been instrumental in leading Philemon to Christ. Philemon was to impute to Paul the debt of Onesimus. This is a beautiful illustration of my own sin being imputed to Christ, wherein God receives me in the merit of His own Son rather than in my own poor merits. 

Has the Gospel of Christ anywhere been summarized more succinctly? O, that I would of my own free will release and forgive any debts owed to me and let the blood of Christ cover those things, marking every debt, “Paid In Full.” The power of this passage to transform lives is without parallel if I would but dwell in these verses until their truth has sunk deep within my heart.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You have marked all my debts as paid in full. And because of that, You now require that I extend that same privilege to those who “owe” me.  Thank You for changing my heart to not just enable me to do that but to want to do it. I love You, Lord.