Influential Forgiveness 3

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. (Philemon 1:4-7 ESV)

Forgiveness means to carry, to take up, to pardon, and to be lenient. It also means to make amends, to be merciful, to put away a hurt. Finally, it means to show favor, to send away a grievance and to disregard the same. 

How is a person who forgives an influence for God and for good? Or to put it another way in light of a conversation I had with someone last week, “Why should I forgive?”  According to Philemon 4-5a, a forgiving person displays their love for God.

Secondly, Philemon 5b says a fforgiving person displays their faith in God. Vs. 5b. The Apostle Paul was not only thankful for Philemon’s love from God but also his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Philemon possessed a consistent commitment, trust, dependence and worship of Jesus Christ. This love and faith was not only directed towards the Lord Jesus, but also manifested itself towards “all the saints.” Those who were holy and dedicated unto the Lord. 

Thirdly, a forgiving person is a blessing to others because of God. Vs. 6-7. Paul derived much joy and comfort from Philemon. Philemon had encouraged and consoled the apostle. You would think it had been the other way around. Not so! 

Philemon’s self-sacrificial love of the will had not only bless Paul, but also many saints in Christ. As the text says, “Because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” The word “heart” refers to one’s soul. To be refreshed means to be restored and to be at rest. Philemon had that kind of effect upon fellow believers. 

Cornelia "Corrie" ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who, along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II and was eventually imprisoned for it in a German concentration camp. Her most famous book, The Hiding Place, describes the ordeal.

In her follow-up book to The Hiding Place, entitled Tramp for the Lord, Corrie describes the painful process, but eventual peace, of forgiveness and forgiving. It is a remembrance that continually touches my heart and refreshes my soul. 

Do you have a reputation for bringing joy and comfort because of your forgiving spirit? Ask some close friends this week what they think about when they think about you and your reputation. 

What can you begin to do to this week to cultivate a behavior and a reputation that brings joy and comfort to people?