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By Chris Oliver
October 29, 2020

Passages of the day: Click HERE to read today’s passages.

Lamentations 1:1-2:22
Philemon 1:1-25
Psalm 101:1-8
Proverbs 26:20

On one of my many flights to the Hawaiian islands, I couldn’t help but notice that my anxious fellow passenger wrote “The Beach” as her intended lodging on her travel form. It was not the first time I had met a runaway. In fact, most of the coworkers, friends, or acquaintances I had the pleasure of knowing while in Hawaii had come from a broken situation somewhere far away. Individuals with fractured relationships, brokenness, and past wrongdoing are mysteriously called in droves to this tropical paradise.

In Paul’s 25 verse letter to Philemon, we meet another runaway: Onesimus. Onesimus was formerly a slave to Philemon and clearly departed on some really bad terms. Miraculously, with a little support from his local imprisoned apostle, Onesimus finds himself as one of the early church Christians. Paul entreats his friend Philemon to forgive Onesimus of all past transgressions, and as recompense for any financial loss, offers to pay his tab. For out of a strenuous situation, Paul surmises a greater divine narrative on behalf of Onesimus, “For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.” (Philemon 1:15-16)

I think back to that stranger on the plane to Hawaii, and all of the individuals I met fleeing from an unsavory situation. There are former bondservants wandering throughout our lives in need of resolution and comfort, and only God’s plan of His church intervening on behalf of Jesus Christ will yield a complete healing work. We are not indebted to one another, but indebted to Jesus.

Not all of us will foster a ward, or disciple someone to the degree of such a man as Paul, but the story of Onesimus offers a powerful example of redemption, attainable by anyone. Whether you find yourself a creditor, debtor, or broker, we should have confidence in God’s desired tranquility among his people, as evidenced in the life of Onesimus, Philemon, and Paul.

To Memorize:

Rise during the night and cry out.
Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him in prayer,
pleading for your children,
for in every street
they are faint with hunger.

— Lamentations 2:19

Prayer to start with: Lord, may I be used as a healing instrument and bring reconciliation to other believers. Amen.