Do you have a “welcome mat” out in front of our your home? How welcome are strangers within the walls of your home? Hospitality is literally “the love of strangers.”
Paul challenges Philemon to welcome Onesimus not as a stranger but as he would have welcomed his friend. The kind of greeting, the warmth of love and inclusion Paul urges for this new Christ-follower, a man who is demonstrating that God has changed his life completely is amazing!
“So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.”
“Onesimus is taking my place,” Paul muses as he sends Onesimus to Colosse. “If I were there, Philemon would fully welcome me into his home and would bless me in any way possible. I’ll urge my friend to treat Onesimus as he would have treated me.”
Onesimus is hugely blessed by Paul and all that he represents. Paul offers to cover any of the outstanding debt, financial or otherwise, which Onesimus had previously incurred. Paul is his guarantor, his counselor, his advisor, his ‘redeemer’ and for this Onesimus I’m sure was eternally grateful.
Paul had gone above and beyond the call of duty with this young Christian. He had sent off Onesimus and Tychicus in good faith trusting that Philemon likewise would provide evidence of God’s grace as he welcomed him home. Thank God for opportunities He provides to welcome others, to make them feel included, that they truly belong as part of God’s ‘forever family.’ May we manifest this self-sacrificing generosity in all our conduct daily.