Daily Devotion - March 11, 2021 - The Choose to Love Equation

Pastor: Connie Belmore

Daily Devotion – March 11, 2021
Reading:
Philemon, verses 8-21
Weekly Theme: Crucial Choices
Today: Choose to Love Equation

This past year has certainly given us some time and reasons to reflect on many different things. The pandemic forced a new way of life --- “staying at home” --- a novel concept in a day in which most people, pre-pandemic, probably only spent 3-5 waking hours at home. We may have found ourselves prioritizing and perhaps even re-prioritizing the way we live and order our lives. Reflection is good as it helps us look at ourselves now, look at where we have been and then choose to live life in a new way. The choices for many have been crucial, life-changing choices.

Today Paul writes a letter contained in a one-chapter book of the Bible named after its recipient, Philemon. He is Paul’s dear brother in Christ and friend, believed to have been a wealthy member of the church of Colossae who owned at least one slave. His slave, Onesimus, stole from his master, Philemon, and then ran away. Paul knew of Onesimus and is reunited with him in Rome where Onesimus lands after he runs away. Through Paul’s teaching and loving mentorship, Onesimus becomes a follower of Jesus. The two become so close that Paul refers to Onesimus as a faithful and dear brother. After months or perhaps years of mentorship by Paul, Onesimus is convicted to return to his owner, Philemon. Paul’s appeal to Philemon in essence is to ask him to choose to love Onesimus rather than punish him, which could be a legal option.

In this shortest book of the Bible, Paul shows us the linchpin of our faith… choosing to love. In love, Paul received Onesimus, showed him Christ’s love, encouraged him in his relationship with Christ, and convinced him to face his past. We do not know the rest of the story but if Philemon is truly a brother “in Christ”, I am pretty certain that he listened to the apostle Paul and received Onesimus back as a friend and brother in Christ.

As we reflect on this past year and all the upheaval that has occurred in our country resulting from the pandemic and divisiveness, with whom might we need to re-connect with and embrace in Christian love? To whom may we need to show courage, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion as Paul showed and appealed to with both Philemon and Onesimus? In these days of so much divisiveness, choose to love, as Paul did and as he encouraged Onesimus and Philemon to do.

Dear God, thank you for pouring out your love and forgiveness on us through your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to embrace your Holy Spirit and to be moved to love those with whom we have a past in which trust and loyalty have been broken. Help us to choose love over hatred and forgiveness over grudges so that our individual lives and the lives of others are changed and so that relationships may be renewed.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 
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