Scripture Reading: Colossians 4:7-18
“And with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you.” (Colossians 4:9)
God has a clear design for ministry. His design includes the ministry of forgiveness and acceptance. One example of this type of ministry is found in Onesimus. Philemon, a member of the church at Colossae, was the master to his slave, Onesimus. Onesimus ran away and abandoned his master. While fleeing he met Paul who was in prison in Rome.
Onesimus became a believer. Paul encouraged him to go back to Philemon. Paul sent another letter to encourage Philemon to forgive Onesimus and to receive him back. Paul went so far as to tell Philemon that if Onesimus owed him anything to charge it to Paul’s account. The reason Paul said this was because Onesimus had embraced Christ and had become a “faithful and beloved brother.”
Paul sent Onesimus back and reminded the members of the church that Onesimus was now one of them. He was a brother even though he had been a runaway slave. This is the ministry of forgiveness and acceptance.
Another example of the ministry of forgiveness and acceptance is John Mark, whose name is found in verse 10. Mark is first mentioned in Acts during Paul’s first missionary journey. At some point he deserted Paul. Later Barnabas wanted to take Mark along on Paul’s second missionary journey. Paul disagreed and this created dissension between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:36-39). They split up with Paul taking Silas and Barnabas taking Mark.
Later, however, Paul forgave Mark and commended him to the church at Colossae (v. 10). But what is more amazing is that at the end of Paul’s life, he specifically asked Timothy to bring Mark to him (II Timothy 4:11). Mark is another example of someone who stumbled, but who had been forgiven and accepted into useful service again.
Are their any Onesimus’s or Mark’s in you life that need your forgiveness and acceptance?
Lord Jesus, You desire for us to dwell together in unity. But we all face conflict with others at various times. Give us grace to forgive and love to accept those who have wronged us. You give us the ministry of reconciliation. Let us seek to be reconciled to one another.
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