“If he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand: I will repay it. I say nothing about your owing me even your own self.” vss. 18-19
Paul is doing everything he can to ensure that Philemon will receive Onesimus with love when he returns. He knows that when Onesimus ran away he may have left some debts behind or even stolen something, so he offers a deal. He will do what it takes to cancel the debt, including repaying it himself. And then Paul reminds Philemon of his own indebtedness to himself! It’s a very human argument, one that we may have used ourselves a time or two. It’s the sort of thing parents say as they attempt to persuade a particular action from a child, “Think of all I’ve done for you!” It’s a reminder that Paul wasn’t above using manipulation to accomplish his aims. He understood the human heart. It would have been nice for Philemon to act purely out of love, but sometimes reminders of indebtedness don’t hurt. It’s that way in our relationship with God too. All of us are debtors and God has done so much to set us free, starting with unlimited forgiveness and unconditional love. And if that doesn’t persuade us to act with love and kindness toward others, it’s unlikely that anything will.
Thought for the Day: How do I respond to reminders of indebtedness?