“So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back — not to mention that you owe me your very self. I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask. And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.” (Philemon 1:17-22)
A slave on the run by the name of Onesimus had been converted and now was aiding the apostle Paul. His owner (Philemon) happened to be a friend of Paul. Now, you know the reason for this small book in the Bible. Paul is writing his friend to receive back his runaway slave with grace. He will be encouraged to receive him as a brother in Christ, for now that Onesimus was born again, he was actually a brother in Christ to his owner. What a situation!
Philemon’s life had been truly rearranged when he met Paul and considered him to be a true friend, as did Paul. They were partners in ministry and friends for life. That’s why Paul did not hesitate to use the friendship/partner card to persuade Philemon to do the “big thing” with his runaway slave who decided to do the right thing and make things right. By the way, slavery here, was not the result of imprisonment and torture, but rather the decision of the slave to indenture himself because of personal debt, usually only for a season. Paul was standing between both of these men, with the message of the gospel and the power of personal friendship. He would use his leverage to encourage his friend to take a nobler road.
So, what about you today? Are you involved in the lives of your friends to the place where you can be both salt and light to them? Do you have the freedom to challenge and encourage your friends to take the high road, the pure road toward godly decisions and living? Don’t assume your friends will always make the right choice. That’s why the Lord has allowed you into their lives and them into yours. Sometimes, we need a little push from the people we love and respect to get us moving in the right direction. Don’t be afraid of pushing. That’s what friends do! It’s called the power of friendship, which gives you the right “to push!”