By Barbara Lighthizer
Today's Scripture: Philemon 1:4-7
Central Thought: Forgiveness is possible as we seek to love as Christ loved.
Philemon is one of the shortest books in the Bible and yet speaks to one of the most important aspects of the Christian walk—forgiveness. We all struggle with forgiveness at some point in our life, and sometimes it takes months or years for us to be able to forgive someone who has hurt us. The Lord instructs us about the necessity to forgive, and Paul requested Philemon to forgive a run away slave who had become a Christian while he was with Paul.
Paul opens all of his letters with greetings of love and positive attributes of the receivers, and it is particularly evident in this letter. Under the circumstances, Paul didn't want to demand Philemon to forgive the slave. He wanted Philemon to willingly forgive in obedience to God's teaching. After reading of Paul's love and expectations of him, how could Philemon resist what he knew he should do as a follower of Christ.
When someone loves and expects the best from us, we want to please them. When we focus on the Lord's love for us and His purpose for our life, we will be better able to forgive.
Devotional Prayer: Lord, help me to be willing to forgive those who have wronged me.
Today's Bible Reading: Lamentations 1:1-2:19; Philemon 1:1-25; Psalm 101:1-8; Proverbs 26:20