Book of Philemon
STUFF – (Situations, That, Undermine, a Focused, Faith)
The book of Philemon is one of those New Testament books that we read occasional as part of our devotions. The main theme of the book is about forgiveness. The story is about a runaway slave named Onesimus who steals money from his slave owner Philemon in Colosse, escapes to Rome 1200 miles away, where he receives Christ under Paul’s ministry, and later travels back to Philemon to return the stolen money and to reconcile this past event. The letter is written by Paul as an appeal to Philemon to receive Onesimus back no longer as a slave, but as a brother in Christ. Paul also offers to pay Onesimus’s debt, which is a picture of Christ paying our sin debt. Philemon could inflict severe punishment, even death to Onesimus as a rightful slave owner, or he could show him Grace. The end of the story isn’t told in the scriptures. I assume Grace was given.
When I recently read this book again, the Spirit prompted me to think about what it would be like to be in Onesimus’s shoes. To look at this situation from his point of view. To ask myself, what would I do if I was him? Would I be focused on this situation (stealing from Philemon) always wondering if I would be exposed or captured? Would this situation consume my thoughts? Would my faith be undermined? Would I just try to forget about this past event? Or would I want to clean up the situation so I could put it behind me and more fully focus on my relationship with Christ? This is where many Christians are right now. They have ongoing current life situations that are stealing their focus and joy because of poor choices made in their past. If I were Onesimus, I would be consumed with the thoughts that I would be exposed or caught. This would undermine my faith and focus me away from my relationship with Christ. I would want to resolve this situation as quickly as possible and be refocused on Christ. We all have similar situations that are consuming our thoughts from past unwise decisions. I call situations like this our STUFF. I describe STUFF using the acronym – (Situations, That, Undermine, a Focused, Faith). STUFF can take many forms. Cleaning up our STUFF refocuses us to look to Jesus Christ and away from the situation we are dwelling on.
Many of us forget we are in a spiritual war. Our enemy, the evil one, is constantly trying to turn our focus away from Christ, and onto our STUFF. The evil one wants us to be consumed by our situations and not look to Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. He wants to side track Christians and render them paralyzed and ineffective. He doesn’t want Christ to live His life through believers here on this earth, and express Christ love to the outside world. When we clean up our STUFF, we put the situation behind us and refocus on Christ, expressing His attributes.
I have observed 2 common areas of STUFF (Situations, That, Undermine, a Focused, Faith) that the evil one tries to entangle us in and steals our focus.
Relational Conflict –There is so much to say on this topic, but for the purposes of this Blog, I want to emphasize that Christians need to pursue Spirit-led forgiveness when we have relational conflict. Relational conflict will steal your focus and joy.
Over Commitment –We as Christians need to balance our daily activities, and create an environment where we can focus on and cultivate our relationship with Christ. Over commitment to less important activities keeps a Christians focus away from Christ. Over commitment will steal your focus and joy.
Read the book of Philemon and think about being in Onesimus shoes. What would you do? Cleaning up our STUFF, refocuses us on our relationship with Christ. Maybe you are dealing with relational conflict, or over commitment situations right now. Maybe you’re not aware of your STUFF. Pray the Spirit would reveal areas in your life that are stealing your focus away from Christ. Pray the Spirit would guide you in dealing with your specific situation. Start Cleaning and refocus on Christ. Christ’s life will flow through you as you focus on your relationship with Him. This is real joy.
If you would like to learn more about the truths described here, come join us at Grace Christian Church, currently meeting at the Freehold VFW, every Sunday at 9:30 am.
Elder / Grace Christian Church