22 November: Define Forgiveness

Today’s chapter shows a practical example of what forgiveness means…

READ PHILEMON  Make notes, if you’d like, of what stands out for you. Feel free to use the “Leave a Comment” box below to also write some of your thoughts.


After several years in South America, it was easy to pick up and take on board some of the culture and concepts of Latinos. One saying Mark adopted was: “If there’s room in your heart, there’s room in your home.” It seemed to be a laid back approach that we took to all the unexpected moments related to people – like when you’re expecting six for dinner and ten show up! Or, when friends, work people, or friends of friends are traveling through and needing a place to stay. Although I’ve heard of stories where the husband has brought home street people who slept on the kitchen floor, Mark hasn’t done that yet!

Paul’s letter to Philemon makes me wonder if I could welcome someone in that I didn’t want here – someone who did me wrong in the past. It’s easy to forgive at a distance and keep that person at a distance – remaining amiable and polite if it becomes necessary to talk to them. But if there’s room in your heart there’s room in your home. So if defining forgiveness includes welcoming them back into your heart and home, am I really forgiving some people? Is there a whole catalogue of people out there dotted about the world, whom I’ll never truly forgive – as defined by my actions towards them?

Philemon has a faith and love for all God’s holy people that seemed to be reported far and wide. [v5] But could he have the same love for someone who isn’t that “holy” at all – someone who’s “crossed him up” in the past. In his letter, Paul is clearly pleased because Philemon has “refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people”. [v7] But the unanswered question is: Can he offer true refreshment to someone he can’t forgive? Could I?

Lord, I pray that my partnership with Your people in the faith may be effective in deepening my understanding of every good thing [v6] – not just the bits that are palatable but then drawing a line in places where I don’t want to change. …Read more?… CLICK to follow “22 November – Additional Notes”

But what about your thoughts – can you tell me what today’s “breadcrumb” is? Leave a note in the “Comments” box below to tell me what you think God is saying to you, through today’s chapter.


   1.   Praise: “Our Father in Heaven, how great is Your name! Your Kingdom come! Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven…”

Be exalted in Your strength, Lord! I’ll sing and praise Your might. [Psalm 21:13]

   2.   Ask: “…Give us today our daily bread…”

  • The World: Pray for Tonga[a] and Trinidad & Tobago[b]
  • Your Nation: Issues arising in Inner Cities
  • Yourself: Insight into God’s Word
  • Your concerns for today
May Your eyes be open to Your servant’s plea and to the plea of Your people. Please Lord, may You listen to them whenever we cry out to You. [1 Kings 8:52]

   3.   Admit: “…Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us…”

Lord, help me to act according to whatever You teach me and the decisions You give me. Help me not to turn aside from what I’ve been told, to the right or to the left. [Deuteronomy 17:11]

   4.   Protect: “…Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one…”

Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. [Matthew 6:19-20]

“ For Yours Lord is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory for ever and ever. Amen”


Watch out! Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. [1 Peter 5:8]

[a] http://www.operationworld.org/country/tong/owtext.html

[b] http://www.operationworld.org/country/trin/owtext.html

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