William Andrew Dillard

Out of the pages of the New Testament comes a story that many who have a general knowledge of its books have overlooked at worse or put on the back burner for later attention at best. It is a story involving three individuals: the apostle Paul, a Christian property owner named Philemon, and a run-a-way slave named Onesimus. Think with me for a moment about it.
How or why Onesimus became a slave is unknown. There were many reasons why one must become such in the days under consideration. Often, many were born to slaves and were by birthright the property of the master who owned his parents.
Regardless, it is clear that Onesimus was an unhappy individual who probably resented his status, and felt life surely held something better and higher for him. Paul acknowledges that in that state Onesimus was an unprofitable slave to his master Philemon., Phil. 1:11.
He proceeded to run away from his master’s home and somehow made his way to Rome where he sought out Paul who was under house arrest there, and whom he doubtlessly knew from Paul’s visit to Philemon’s place.
Paul received him, and led him to the Lord. He remained there for a time ministering to the needs of the apostle. It was then that Paul penned the short letter of importunity to send with Onesimus to Philemon. One can only assume, but safely assume that Philemon was pleased to receive Onesimus back into his home with considerable joy because instead of a rebel, he now received a brother in Christ who was wiser spiritually, and much more mature mentally. As the apostle put it, he departed from his responsibilities for a season, that he should be received for ever. V. 15.
What a wonderful story this is! It parallels the life of most Christians throughout the age.
Unlike Onesimus, it may not be an earthly authority one is running from. It could be initially, of course, but the lure of sin is strong. It leads one to believe the world has wonderful things ready to heap upon its seekers, but so soon one finds out differently. The prodigal son certainly did. In realization at last that the world has no lasting love for anyone, and that life really does offer so much more that the sinner can receive from it, a turn is made to the lovely Lord Jesus Christ Who saves with an everlasting salvation, and fills the heart with eternal hope. Onesimus found peace, life, and goodness in the truest form, and that is so right!

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