Influential Forgiveness 4

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.

What is the process of either receiving forgiveness from someone you have hurt or offended or extending it to someone who has hurt and offended you? Is there a process? I believe there is. Philemon 8-18 explains some principles involved in the process of receiving or extending forgiveness.

To begin with, forgives is required by Scripture. Forgiveness is not an option for the believer in Christ; either to receive it or to extend it. As Paul says, “Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required,” vs. 8. Forgiveness is a requirement before God.   

Second, forgiveness is to be compelled by love. “Yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— vs.9. Believers are not to forgive simply because God commands it. Rather, in light of God’s command, we should see to forgive and be forgiven because of our and love for God and for one another.

Paul continues by saying, “I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me. I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel. (Philemon 10-13, ESV).

Paul’s appeal to Philemon was not only due to the love he had for this leader within the church, but also compelled by the love he had for Onesimus. This love that is spoken finds its origin with and from God. May what was evidenced in the apostle, and was hope to be evidence in Philemon, be evidenced in you and me today as followers of Jesus Christ.