Paul begins this letter to Philemon in an odd sort of way. We do know that at the time of this writing he was imprisoned, but rather than declaring himself as a prisoner of Rome he declares himself a “prisoner of Jesus Christ” (v.1). This declaration proves that Paul looked at every situation as being God’s plan and he was content to accept his hardship. Even from the very first verse we can surmise that Paul was preparing Philemon to accept the wrong which had been done to him by his slave, Onesimus. Paul writes to “Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer” and offers “grace…and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (v.3). Instead of getting right to the point, Paul spends some time commending Philemon for his godly character. Paul writes “I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints” (vv.4-5). It appears that Philemon had a great love for God, which led to a great love for people; furthermore, Philemon was known as one who refreshed the hearts of the people (vv.6-7). From every appearance, Philemon was a man of God who had a passionate love for God and a good reputation amongst the church. Because of his integrity, Paul knew he could speak openly to Philemon about the situation at hand. I believe approachability is imperative in the Christian faith. Others believers should have the feeling that they can approach you about a particular circumstance without you becoming angry or defensive. Philemon is a perfect example of one who was ready to listen so that he could be a better follower of Jesus Christ.
Dear God, help me to listen to the advice of others without becoming defensive of angry. May I be humble and willing to examine my heart to see if I need to change.