“Not as a slave any longer but as something more than a slave, as a brother Christian, especially dear to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh as a servant and in the Lord as a fellow believer.” Philemon 1:16
The book of Philemon is only one chapter long. I included it in our 3:16 verses because the 16th verse is so powerful, it speaks of forgiveness.
Paul wrote this letter to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus, for simplicity we can call them Phil and Sim. What’s important is to focus on what’s happening here. Sim was a slave owned by Phil, but he ran away. He went to Rome and became a believer, and associated himself with Paul. Now Paul is writing to Phil asking him to take Sim back, not as a slave but as a brother, a fellow believer. Paul also tells Phil in verse 18 that if Sim has done him any wrong or owes him anything to charge it to him and not Sim.
Imagine how Sim feels, he ran away from Phil, his owner, and now Paul wants him to go back. There had to be a reason Sim ran away, but we don’t know what that is. Sometimes we run away from hurts in the past, we’ve moved on, we don’t want to look back or go back. I believe God is telling us here that it’s important to go back, to confront our past, things we’ve done or things that have been done to us. This will help us to be in balance, in right relationship with God and with others. God wants to help us do this, and will walk with us through the process of confronting issues that may lie under the surface, but still affect our daily walk in life.
If someone has done us wrong we may have a hard time talking to them about that wrong or maybe that person isn’t around anymore to confront. I believe in that instance that God speaks to us like Paul did in verse 18. “If anyone has done you any wrong in any way or owes anything to you, charge that to my account.”
Jesus paid the price and forgave you, now you in turn need to forgive others.