Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you — since I am such a person as Paul, an old man, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus — I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I fathered in my imprisonment, who previously was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me. – Philemon 1:8-11
Paul wrote this short letter to Philemon, a “child in the faith,” about another “child in the faith,” Onesimus, in order that his two “kids” might be reconciled to one another. Apparently, Onesimus, the slave, had fled Philemon, the master, and had taken a few things along for the journey. Of course, as Onesimus was running, he met Paul and his Savior. Onesimus, whose name means “Useful,” as a believer needed to return to his earthly master and Philemon needed to offer forgiveness for his slave’s offense. Paul also not so subtly instructed Philemon to then release Onesimus from his obligation, in order that he could return as an aid to the apostle, because he had been so useful to him.
For reconciliation to occur between believers, the love of Christ must prevail, and everyone involved in the offense must surrender to His purposes. In this case, even Paul (who brokered the reconciliation) was included. Forgiveness acknowledges failure, embraces it, and applies grace as the healing agent. The work of reconciliation is never easy, but it is always worth the effort, for in it Christ is glorified, the flesh is crucified, and God’s work continues unhindered.
To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. – C. S. Lewis