15th Sunday after Pentecost
September 9, 2007
He Is Counting On Me
The text is part of Paul’s amazing letter written on behalf of a runaway slave, named Onesimus. After meeting Paul the slave is returning to his master with this letter of encouragement for him to be freed. Calling upon Philemon to forgive him, Paul encourages him to receive the slave as he would Paul himself. Paul even accepts responsibility for anything the slave owes. But, there is this one verse, verse 21, which intrigues us. Paul says to Philemon, “I know you will do even more than I say.”
Can the Lord count us to do that – to do more than He says?
What Does The Lord Require?
The Old Testament prophet, Micah raises this question in Micah 6, verse 8. He answers the question in three parts. First, the Lord expects His children to “act justly.” Second, the Lord expects His children to “love mercy.” And, third, the Lord expects His children to “walk humbly.”
These are three great expectations — so great they seem impossible to live out. In all of our dealings we are to be just and fair. In any part of our life whether personal or business or in the church we are to demonstrate justness. We find that hard to do when the world treats us with such inequity.
Perhaps that is why being of full of mercy is such an integral part of Micah’s answer. We must not forget the mercy God has shown to us, in that while we were full of sin, Christ was giving His life for us. He died regardless of what we had done. In like fashion we must treat people with that same kind of mercy, regardless of what they have done. As we remember His mercy we should also live in great humility. We must realize that there is nothing good in us (except Christ). There is nothing in us worthy of His presence.
How Does The Lord Equip?
In the Gospels the writers record the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. It was an entry that Zechariah described by declaring the King would come as the righteous one, having salvation and riding on a donkey. (see Zechariah 9:9) Not what the citizen of the day would call a triumphant entry. Quite the contrary Jesus came that day as one who acted justly, as one who showed mercy, and as one of great humility.
How does the Lord equip? First, He gives Christ as the example. He has not asked anything of us that he has not demonstrated himself. But, we are not perfect. That’s true. Therefore, He has given us His written Word, the presence of His Holy Spirit, and free access to His throne of grace.
Why Should I Do More?
Believers stay busy. It seems like there is always something at church. We sing in the choir. We serve in leadership as teachers, deacons and the like. We give financially. We rally to help the needy and send missionaries overseas. But, we are so busy doing church that we forget to be the church.
Micah never intended to communicate that the children of God should act justly, or love mercy, or walk humbly for the benefit of the other children of God. It is not enough to sing His praises and relish in the warmth of His light. We are to be the light to a dark and dying world. But, “Why me?” you would ask. Why not someone else? What I about those missionaries I pay for? What about the Pastor and staff? It is really a pretty simple answer. So simple, we miss it. Christ died for me!
Paul told Philemon, “This runaway may have cost you money or time. He may have embarrassed you. But, because of Christ, he now has value to you. Forgive him. And, anything he owes, charge it to me.” That is a simple picture of what Christ has done for you and me. He said to the Father, “This runaway may have cost you money or time. He may have embarrassed you. But, because of me, he now has value to you. Forgive him. And, anything he owes, charge it to me.” (John D. Burke)