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Paving The Way Toward Peace

Grace and peace to you[a] from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.
Philemon 3-6

Today the deteriorating conditions in the Middle East have widened the gap between neighbors, friends, and family. Even the various news agencies seem to report the ongoing events while rejecting the concept of mutual tolerance from all who are involved. It appears that our media today is playing out what William Randolph Hearst once said, “Peace doesn’t sell newspapers.” Today it’s not newspapers, it’s “clicks.”
The Book of Philemon addresses the issues of conflict and justified revenge. It speaks with tact and seeks a response of love, but it does so without shrieking from the truth. Philemon was a rich landowner who was converted to Christ under Paul’s ministry, and who was a slave owner, something that was seen as culturally acceptable at the time.
Onesimus was a runaway slave that belonged to Philemon, and who either had stolen from him or damaged his property prior to or during his escape. Fleeing to Rome, Onesimus found Paul and was converted to Christ. Paul then sends him back to reconcile and fulfill Jesus’ mandate of love.

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people. Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul, an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus, that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. I am sending him, who is my very heart, back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord. 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. Philemon 1:7-21

Don’t miss the need for Christians to be use tact

Pastor Chuck Swindoll says “tact graces life like fragrance graces a rose. One whiff of those red petals erases any memory of the thorns.” Tact is simple saying the right thing at the right time. It’s the rare gift of not being offensive.

Christ’s ambassadors are not exempt from being tactless. We can fight the good fight for the truth with oftentimes little regard for the feelings of others and do so in the name of the Lord. When we plow through people’s feelings like a John Deer Tractor leaving their hearts buried in the dirt, we don’t leave them focused on Christ, rather on the offence which we caused.

An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel. Proverbs 18:19

This is not being politically correct or advocating that you undermine your integrity in order to please others, but rather to be wise with your words, not avoiding truth, but speaking frankly, and gently.

The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil. Proverbs 15:28

A person motivated by their concern for others, rather than their desire to just be heard will use their words to help another be more than they are, to be better, smarter, and happier.

The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. … The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:2&4

The term “deceitful” isn’t just blatant exaggeration, the fundamental meaning of the term is “words that are empty”. They have no substance. Words were designed by God to be tools of great value, but they have become cheap and useless. Don’t underestimate the power and importance of the right word, placed at the right time, into the right ear. It not only benefits those who hear them but also those who give them.

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21

Let’s consider for a moment the principles of Christian tolerance, keeping in mind that principles do not change. Our situations may change, but principles stay the same. While they are constant, our lives are forever changing. Throughout the Scriptures, we are taught three basic principles of tolerance that lead to forgiveness.

Principle One: Be tolerant of those who sin against you and forgive them. Don’t be tempted to assume that you have the right to justify your anger or have the right to revenge yourself.

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:12-13

Principle Two: Be tolerant and forgive, so that you may receive divine tolerance and be forgiven. It’s easy to be forgiving when you’re not offended, but to be a true child of God, you must act as your heavenly Father. Like Father, like son.

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14

Principle Three: If you chose not to be tolerant and reject the idea of forgiving someone who has offended or hurt you, then don’t expect tolerance or forgiveness shown to you. “We need not climb up into heaven to see whether our sins are forgiven. We but need to look into our hearts and see if we can forgive others.” – Thomas Watson As principle-centered people we are called upon again and again to be tolerant and to forgive. Keep in mind that forgiveness is given priority throughout the scriptures.

But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:15

We are all Prodigals in some fashion, and our heavenly Father is watching for our return.

Until next time,

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Biblical & Historical Fiction