Having confidence in another person is measured by the level of trust shared between the two parties. There is no greater feeling of joy to have for someone than to believe in their willingness to help and to even go beyond what is being asked. Paul believed that about his friend and fellow laborer, Philemon. The apostle was a "prisoner of Christ Jesus" (Philemon 1:1) and he had a delicate matter to discuss with Philemon. One of Philemon's slaves had run away and through the grace of God met Paul and became a Christian. His name was Onesimus.
Paul was sending Onesimus back to Philemon (1:12) with the prayer that he would receive his slave back in the spirit of Christ. The circumstances of Onesimus and Paul meeting are unknown but what a wonderful outcome for both the apostle and the slave. It is never suggested to Onesimus to rebel against Philemon nor does Paul ask Philemon to release Onesimus from slavery. What Paul seeks from both slave and master is to show the true nature of Jesus Christ in their love for one another.
It is certain that Paul is appealing to the true character of a man of God when he writes this letter to Philemon. The church meets in his house (1:2) and he is a man of great love and faith. He writes, "Hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother" (1:5-7). Philemon is benevolent, faithful and like Barnabas, a disciple of "encouragement" (Acts 4:36).
Paul had confidence in Philemon's action toward his run away slave and commended him in not only doing as Paul suggested but going beyond what he had asked. Philemon was a second mile person. He exhibited the character of the Sermon on the Mount disciple: "If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two" (Matthew 5:40-42).
We need to be like Philemon. Our character should be recognized as the one who is willing to assist and help in any way that we can (Matthew 25:35-36). Sometimes we may have to go the second mile and be glad to do so. The Samaritan of Luke 10 went beyond his means and time to help someone (10:25-37). Dorcas was a second-miler when she helped others (Acts 9:36-41). The early Christians did not stay at home when persecution came; they went everywhere preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:1-4). Abraham literally went the second mile in obedience to God (Genesis 12).
The greatest example of going beyond the ordinary is when Jesus Christ walked the final mile to Golgotha and died (Matthew 27). As we are to be like Christ (Philippians 2:5-11) we should be willing to bear a cross as long as the Lord requires. Often this involves others as we do more than required. We must have a heart willing to open itself to the mercies of God and willingly give of our time, energy, efforts and love in the pursuit of helping others. "We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself but as it is written, 'The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me'" (Romans 15:3).
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