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10I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11(Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own free will.
Philemon 1:10-14

Let’s continue looking at Paul’s letter to Philemon in our study of reconciliation. We previously discussed the wisdom of making an appeal to one of the parties rather than simply commanding unity, but how do we recognize which person to begin with? Paul started with the more wounded person.

Philemon 10 says,“I appeal to you . . .” There’s that word again.“I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus.” Now that’s really interesting to me because can you try to imagine what it would be like to get a letter from the apostle Paul? Most people would think it would be fairly cool to get a bona fide letter from the apostle Paul at your house. An amazing piece of mail! Philemon was no different.

So he starts reading it. And he’s like, “He likes me. He’s fired up about me. He remembers me. He loves me. It’s my letter from Paul!” And then he starts digging into the content of the letter. And he’s like, “He’s praying for me.  And he wants me to share my faith.” Then he gets to Philemon 8 and he’s like, “But he says he could command me to do what is required . . . and he’s going to appeal to me about something . . . he’s going to appeal to me about . . . ”

But then he gets to this part. And Paul says, “And I appeal to you for my child Onesimus!!!” Philemon could think, “That guy lied to me! That slave stole from me! He ran from me! And Paul doesn’t know what he’s talking about! He should stay out of this! Stop meddling in my affairs!” And the whole picture would change. 

So I think the point here is Paul started with Philemon because Philemon is really burdened.  Philemon is really upset. Start with the more wounded person.

Wherever Onesimus ran to, he ran into Paul. 

And here comes this letter to the more wounded person; to the person who lost the most; to the person who gave up the most. Paul starts with him. So do that, too. 

Gently appeal instead of a requiring agreement. 

Start with the more wounded person.—James MacDonald


  • As I am thinking about relationships in my life that need reconciliation, which party is the more wounded person?
  • How will I approach him or her?

Prayer – Father, it’s amazing to me that life 2,000 years ago isn’t so different from now. People were hurting other people then in very similar ways as today. Thank You for Your Word that gives me direction in handling situations like conflict between people I love. Give me Your words and wisdom as I reach out to those that are hurting as You lead. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Always True: 5 Great and Precious Promises of God
Always True: 5 Great and Precious Promises of God 

5 CD Series Set - $35.00

What if you believed—truly believed with all confidence that God is with you? How would today go for you if you knew without a doubt that God is in control? What would be different in your life if you were sure God is watching and good? What would you risk if you were certain God is victorious? 

Just how would believing God’s promises change your life?  

Ask the greatest Christian you’ll ever meet if they hold on to God’s promises and they’ll all say yes. Believing that God will do what He promises leads to a great life. The greatest Christian you’ll every meet knows, treasures, and is resting in the promises of God. They cling to these assurances that God gives His people so they can walk by faith while they wait for Him to work.

So what exactly does God promise?  In this topical study of what will always be true, Pastor James MacDonald will explore five great and precious promises that God keeps. Enter into this study with anticipation and faith that the God who makes these promises is faithful and true... always true.