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Effective in Sharing of Faith (Philemon 1:6)

Sermon on 20 September 2021 by Ps Gaius


The apostle Paul went to various places to share the gospel. The book of Philemon was written by Paul when he was in prison in Rome. Philemon was from Colossae. There was considerable distance between Colossae and Rome. Philemon was a rich businessman, who had many slaves. When he became a Christian, he opened up his home to allow people to listen to the gospel. One of the slaves he had was called Onesimus, who did something to offend Philemon. Onesimus then escaped to Rome and met Paul. Although Onesimus received the gospel and became a good assistant to Paul, Paul knew about the conflict between Philemon and Onesimus and wanted to mediate this conflict.

Paul wrote a letter, and sent Tychicus and Onesimus to go to Colossae.

Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here. – Colossians 4:7-9


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. – Philemon 1:6

In the book of Philemon, verses 1-3 shows Paul’s greeting. Verses 4-7 shows Paul’s praise for Onesimus as a useful man. Verses 8-16 then describes Paul’s plea for Philemon to accept Onesimus. Paul used the love of Jesus Christ to persuade Philemon. Verses 17-22 tells us about the promise Paul made to Philemon to charge anything Onesimus owed to Paul’s account.

1. Repay our debts

We can be effective in sharing our faith, first by repaying our debts.

We do not know what Onesimus owed Philemon. But Paul was willing to repay this debt.

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— Philemon 1:18

What does God want us to do?

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

We must do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

The Old Testament tells us to repay our debts. It is not true that we can disregard the Old Testament. Jesus came not to abolish the law but to fulfil them. Jesus came to personally fulfil the law.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. – Matthew 5:17

In Luke 19:8, we know that Zacchaeus the tax collector on his own accord decided to repay his debts fourfold, after being transformed by Jesus’ sharing. When someone owes us, it is not right to go after our debtor. We can trust the Lord to change his heart. Even if our debtor continues to owe us, the blessings we receive from the Lord surpass the amounts owed to us.

2. Reconcile our relationship

So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. – Philemon 1:17

So, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. - Matthew 5:23-24

If we are unable to reconcile with someone, it means we do not love this person.

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. – 1 John 4:20-21

If we are unable to love who we can see, how do we love God whom we have not seen? If we do not love God’s creation, we also do not love God. When someone offends us, quieten down and pray. We pray not for punishment upon that person, but for God to reconcile our relationship.

3. Restore our identity

We are all God’s creations. During Paul’s time, servants were commonplace. Now that Onesimus has returned, we see that Paul wanted Philemon to treat Onesimus not as a servant but as a brother.

Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. – Colossians 4:1

no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother— - Philemon 1:16

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” – Romans 13:15

In the example of the prodigal son, upon his return to his father, he asked his father to treat him as a servant (Luke 15:19). He humbled himself and was willing to lower his status. But the father acknowledged his son’s identity by giving him a ring to put on.

But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. – Luke 15:22

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross involved carrying the burden of all our sins and covered us with his blood. Jesus restored our identity as children of God. Our master is God. We are in Onesimus’ position. Because of sin, we need a mediator, and this is Jesus Christ.


Through repaying our debt, reconciling relationships, and restoring our identify, let us be effective in the sharing of our faith.

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