Have you ever felt the need to step up for someone? Maybe it was to take up for them when they couldn’t take care of themselves…
In the midst of Paul’s letter to Philemon, Paul must have realized that one reason that Philemon might not forgive Onesimus was because of some type of financial loss. This could have been his slave value or could have been because he stole something. Either way, Paul did not want this reconciliation to fall short because Onesimus didn’t have what it took to compensate his master. Read what Paul says and does:
So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. (Philemon 1:17-19 ESV)
This is huge. Onesimus has a debt he cannot pay and Paul steps up to pay it (if Philemon requires it). This is a picture of grace and shows that Paul follows the example of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus taught His followers to love sacrificially. He taught there was no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend and then he did that on the cross so we could know the greatest love in the world. His love cost something. Ours does too. Paul gets it. He has led a man to Jesus and now needs to step up and give tangible care to him. He has a debt that he has no means to pay. People don’t hire runaway slaves. They grab them and throw them back into slavery. It is a vicious cycle. Paul steps up to ensure that this debt does not hold him in bonds.
Did you know this is what Jesus did for me? I was caught in the slavery of sin. I lived for myself and was apart from Christ because of it. I would have stayed trapped in sin and lived apart from Christ eternally because that separation was something I couldn’t change. Jesus stepped up and into my life when He saw my desperate need for a Savior and He laid down His life at great cost. He took the punishment for my sin and made the payment for my sin debt because I couldn’t. He ensured my freedom. I now owe no man anything but instead owe Him everything. Because all of my allegiance is now to Him I will follow Him when he says that I should ‘love others like He loves me’. I will choose to step up for others. I will choose to sacrifice to do this. I will find the greatest joy in following Him and loving God and loving people. Have you come to the realization that this is what Jesus has done for you? Do you follow Him because of His great love?