Philemon 1:16

Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother loved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?

Before Twitter celebrity Club Pro Guy started writing heart-felt letters to first-time Tour winners, it was the custom of Arnold Palmer to pen such personal letters to golfers who accomplished a certain feat in the game. These letters are now priceless treasures to those who received them throughout the years. Unfortunately, most of us don’t write letters any more. Today, personal correspondence is done via text or email, many times in a growing indiscernible language. The personal aspect of the message is often lost as handwriting and signature is the writer’s personality. In the Bible, Paul wrote his share of letters as many are included as books of the Bible. He wrote letters to uplift, encourage, inform, rebuke and even warn. I chose a passage from the Book of Philemon as it is one we rarely study. In this letter, Paul wrote to Philemon explaining his appreciation of Philemon’s runaway slave, Onesimus. He suggested Philemon welcome his returning slave back without punishment. During this time, a runaway slave could suffer severe punishment including execution when recovered by his owner. Paul knew Philemon was a loving and generous man. Thus, instead of using his authority, Paul kindly requested Philemon welcome back Onesimus as he would if Paul were visiting. You can read this letter in its entirety on your own. Paul was advocating a shift in the mentality of how a slave should be humanized. Paul made the plea that Onesimus should have the same considerations as other human beings. Paul saw Onesimus as “useful” and would have loved to keep him, but recognized the relationship. My prayer is to strive to make my interactions more personal – write more letters, send more cards, make more phone calls, or better yet make a personal visit!

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