If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.
By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)
Nature is selfish, but grace is loving. He who boasts that he cares for nobody, and nobody cares for him, is the reverse of a Christian, for Jesus Christ enlarges the heart when he cleanses it.
When Onesimus left his master (Philemon) he was performing an action the results of which, in all probability, would have been ruinous to him. If I read the epistle rightly, he had a godly mistress and a godly master, and he had an opportunity of learning the gospel continually; but this reckless young blade, very likely, could not bear it.
Our text may be viewed as an example of relations improved. Perhaps Philemon had not quite found out that it was wrong for him to have a slave. Some men who were very good in their time did not know it. Public sentiment was not enlightened, although the gospel has always struck at the very root of slavery.
The essence of the gospel is that we are to do to others as we would that others should do to us, and nobody would wish to be another man’s slave, and therefore he has no right to have another man as his slave.
Perhaps, when Onesimus ran away and came back again, this letter of Paul may have opened Philemon’s eyes a little as to his own position. No doubt he may have been an excellent master, and have trusted his servant, and not treated him as a slave at all, but perhaps he had not regarded him as a brother; and now Onesimus has come back he will be a better servant, but Philemon will be a better master, and a slave-holder no longer. He will regard his former servant as a brother in Christ.
Let us cultivate a large-hearted spirit, and sympathize with the people of God, especially with new converts, if we find them in trouble through past wrong-doing. If God has forgiven them, surely we may, and if Jesus Christ has received them, they cannot be too bad for us to receive. Let us do for them what Jesus would have done had he been here, so shall we truly be the disciples of Jesus.
*Abridged and language updated from Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s sermon, “The Story Of A Runaway Slave.”