The Characteristics of Those Who Forgive - Part 1
Read: Philemon 4-7
Coach, how often do you emphasize the importance of good character on your football team? Mostly likely, you emphasize the importance of good character a significant amount. In order for forgiveness to permeate your team, it must first begin with you and your character. What enables you to forgive in an extraordinary way? It has to do with your character being transformed by the Spirit of Christ in you. Actually, forgiveness for a Christian, is not really an extraordinary act, but an ordinary act. This should be the norm for those of us who have been forgiven by God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ’s payment for our sin.
As we being to examine Philemon 4-7, it is important for us to remember that Paul is writing to Philemon asking him to forgive his run-away slave, Onesimus, who also stole from him. In Paul’s day both being a run-away slave and being a thief were punishable by death. Not only does Paul ask Philemon to forgive Onesimus, but he also asks him to receive him back as a beloved brother (v. 16), since Onesimus had become a Christian during his time away.
Paul has no problem asking Philemon to do this, because he knows that Philemon has been transformed by the Grace of God in such a powerful way that he can forgive others, just as God in Christ has forgiven him. In the next 3 weeks we will be examining Philemon 4-7 where we will discover 3 Characteristics of Those Who Forgive.
Look with me at verse 4: “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers.” Here we see the 1st Characteristic of Those Who Forgive: 1) They Produce Thanksgiving in Others. The fact the Philemon Possess the Character that Forgives others cause Paul to give thanks for him. The first thing to notice about this Thanksgiving is that it is God Centered. We see this in the words “I thank my God always.” In these words, Paul is giving God the credit for the Godly attributes in Philemon’s life.
Notice also in verse 4 the words “I thank” and “when I remember.” Both of these are in the present tense, meaning that they are continual and consistent. Also, notice the word “always.” Paul persistently thanks God for Philemon. Philemon’s transformed life that produced good character was so overwhelming that Paul could not help but to consistently thank God for Philemon. Philemon’s good character Produced Thanksgiving in Paul that was both God-Centered and Continual.
Coach, does you good character Produce Thankfulness that is God-Centered and Continual in others? Do others give thanks for the way they see Christ exemplified in our lives? As followers of Christ who coach, Producing Thankfulness in others should be characteristic of our lives.
Coach, what is it your life that you need to submit to the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, in order that your life would cause others to continually give thanks to God? Ask the Lord to grow you in this area, so others will give thanks to God for His transforming power in your life.
Coach, do you notice the Godly character in others around you? In your family? In your team? In your coaching staff? If so, thank God for His work in their lives. Then, just as Paul did to Philemon, tell them that you continually give thanks to God for His work in their lives. This will serve as a great source of encouragement to them. It will also remind them when they are faced with an opportunity to forgive someone, they have the power of Christ in them to do so.
Have a great week!