Love Appeals to the Head
When standing at the crossroads of discipleship, consider God’s love, your partners in Christ, and how you can show what you know. We can know who Jesus is and what He has done, and still often stop short of doing what Jesus did when we stand at the crossroads of discipleship. Paul’s modeling God’s love within the real-life circumstances of Philemon’s crisis reminds us of the way God has loved His own runaways. While we were yet sinners, He sent His Son Jesus to die for us. In doing so, He paid a debt He did not owe.
PHILEMON 1:17-25 (NASB)
17 If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me. 18 But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account; 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (not to ]mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well). 20 Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.
21 Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say. 22 At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you. 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers. 25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Think about an impactful moment of forgiveness in one of your relationships, whether given by you or offered to you.
What are some struggles or questions people might have when witnessing or receiving undeserved forgiveness?
How do these moments bring us to a crossroads of discipleship?
Are you more drawn to partners who affirm every whim of your heart and won’t oppose you or call you out for Christ’s sake or those who will point you to Christ when you’re stuck at the crossroads? Explain.
Do you consider yourself a partner with other believers in Christ? How so or why not?
What would it look like if each of us considered ourselves partners in the ministry of the gospel?
What about us, as individuals and as a group, would need to change for that to be true?
What is a crossroad of discipleship you’re currently facing? Who has permission to give you confident accountability in that situation, as Paul did for Philemon?
Why did Paul care so much that he would pay Onesimus’ debt for him (v. 18-19)? What was in it for Paul?
How does our obedience in Christ benefit each other? Give an example of a time someone else’s obedience at a crossroads benefitted you in some way.
What picture of the gospel do you see in verses 18-19?
When you are standing at a crossroads, which are you likely to allow to impact you the most: God’s love, your circumstances, your feelings, others’ opinions, or something else?
Considering the crossroads of discipleship you’re currently facing, how would making God’s love your highest priority impact things?
How does the letter to Philemon speak to you about the relationship between faith and works?
What is a situation where you’ve been struggling to “show what you know” in relationship with Christ?
Of the three appeals we saw this week in Paul’s letter to Philemon, which is God speaking to you about the most: consider your partners in Christ, consider God’s love, or show what you know? Explain.
How do you seek to remind yourself of God’s grace to you in Christ? What is a practical way you need to express your gratitude to Christ for His forgiveness?
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