It probably began as every other day had started: a time for prayer and the Word of God, breakfast, administrative duties and an agenda for the servants; routine, daily responsibilities that were almost second nature to him. But then it happened. Whether it was a knock on the front door, or a servant’s coming to announce visitors, or the excitement of the servants in the outer court that raised his awareness, we are not told. But there the two stood.
One was a messenger from Paul. His name was Tychicus and may have been known to Philemon. The other man … he knew him well. You can almost begin to see the muscles tense, the facial expression harden, and the eyes stare: Onesimus. It may have been months or years since he had run away. And here he was again. Philemon well knew that he had absolute power over him, the power of life and death.
As these and a myriad of other thoughts vied for place in Philemon’s mind, Tychicus drew out a letter. It was from his beloved friend, Paul. As he read it, an entirely new set of truths flooded his mind: saved, profitable, receive him, a brother beloved. Slowly the facts began to coalesce into a reality. Onesimus had run away and run right into Paul. In Rome he had been saved and Paul was now sending him back, asking Philemon to be reconciled to him.
What would Philemon do? He had his rights. The law was on his side. Yet, he realized that having a right to do something did not always mean it was the right thing to do.
Little did Philemon know when he awoke that morning that the sun had risen on the most important day of his life. It may well be that this was the purpose for which he was born into the world and saved.
The manner in which he responded did not call for any “special day” Christianity. Paul was confident that it was the only consistent response that Philemon could make in light of his character (vv 6, 21). This was Philemon, not at his best, but at his usual self.
As Philemon welcomed Onesimus back into his home, heart, and, now, to the assembly, he was he was privileged to join the ranks of a select few. These few are involved in the rare, Scriptural pictures of the heart of God toward man. He joined the ranks of a sacrificing Abraham of Genesis 22, a reconciling Hosea, and the father marked by grace in Luke 15.
His greatest honor and his finest hour occurred in the routine course of business, during a normal work day. It was an extension of a consistent life. Are you and I prepared for who may be at the door today? What a tragedy if we should miss the great purpose for which God has raised us up!