The Gift of Welcome
Today’s scripture selection: Philemon
Key verse: Philemon 1:17
The apostle Paul is known for his great theological treatises. But there is a small New Testament letter for which he is lesser known. Nevertheless, it earns its right to be in the New Testament canon.
It’s a letter appealing to a slave owner named Philemon for a slave Paul had come to love named Onesimus.
Paul talks about how this slave had become a brother in Christ to him – and that he hopes Philemon will welcome him as a brother too. It’s a great testimony to just how deep Christian love goes.
Paul writes, at one point, “So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand.”
Isn’t that great?
In a world where slavery was common – where it was part of the normal commerce of the world that one human being could “own” another – Paul makes a personal appeal for something else.
He wasn’t talking about the abolition of slavery as a social institution. He was talking about showing the love of Christ to someone, just as it had been shown to him.
In today’s world – we would do well to take that same request to heart.
There are so many who still live in “bondage” of one type or another. Isn’t the least we can do, as children of God’s kingdom, to express welcome to them just as God has welcomed us in his grace?
Prayer: Lord, help me to always be a welcoming person to others, no matter who they are or what they’ve done. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.