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. 15For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever. —Philemon 1:10-16

Now tell me—is this not true? Relationships sever over issues. When an issue becomes more important than the person, the relationship is going south. Now, I understand some issues are important and we have to stand for the truth. But in Onesimus’ case, Paul chooses to let the value of the person outweigh the value of the offense.

Notice in Philemon 10,“I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.” Paul doesn’t say, “I want to talk to you about how much this cost you.” He doesn’t start with the issue. But when is the issue more important than the relationship? 

I got some great counsel from a pastor once who said to me, “Don’t make that person’s relationship with God be the test of the relationship with you.” You can stand for the truth and stand by what you believe without forcing that relationship into estrangement over truth. If you can’t pick the fruit, don’t bruise it. Keep loving and give God time to work that out. That’s what Paul is doing here.

Now the problem comes when we come to an issue and it becomes so massive that we shatter the relationship over the disagreement. That’s a problem. Do not do that. Circle back to the person. Find a way to affirm your love for them. Find a way to communicate to them the grace with which you think of them and hold them. Find some way to connect with their heart. Put your hand on them and say, “I care about you. I’m not good with where things are at.”

Now reconciliation does not solve the issue; it absorbs it. 

Reconciliation does not remove the difference; it bridges it.

Reconciliation does not eliminate the problem; it elevates the relationship over the problem. 

“We’re going to work this out better together than we ever will separately. You matter more to me than any point about which we differ. And I am never going to stop challenging you about this. And I’ll never support what I know will hurt you—ever! But I love you. And I want to be with you through this discovery.”

Elevate the person over the issue. —James MacDonald


·         When have I put the value of the issue over the value of the person? What happened?

·         Whether or not I can fix it, am I willing to elevate that person over the issue now?

Prayer – Almighty Father, there are many relationships I encounter that are broken and I find myself stepping on eggshells to avoid making matters worse. Thank You that Your Word gives clear direction on how to help reconciliation happen. Give me the courage to step in when I should and the discernment to know when I shouldn’t. Keep me willing always to elevate others! 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.