Bold Love

Read This Week: Philemon

Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus – that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. – Philemon 1:8-11

I love the movie, A River Runs Through It. The story is about the Maclean brothers growing up in a minister’s home in Montana trying to cross various rites of passage while always finding community through fly fishing.

There is also a very difficult part of the story involving the youngest brother, Paul Maclean. He goes from a mischievous child to a destructive man that is hard to love and understand. The personal impact of his choices and behavior are perfectly summarized by his father, Reverend Maclean in a sermon. He said:

“Each one of us here today will, at one time in our lives, look upon someone who is in need and ask the same question, “We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed?” Lord, it is true we can seldom help those who are closest to us. Either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give, or more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so, it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them. We can love completely, without complete understanding.”

Love without complete understanding is exactly what Paul was asking of Philemon and the church in Colossae. His message was simple: based on the love and forgiveness that had been given to Philemon by God, he and others should show the same to a man named Onesimus, who had caused problems and hurt Philemon personally. Paul appealed to Philemon not on the basis of understanding but of love and asked him to take Onesimus back and restore their relationship. He was calling for a bold love that expresses itself in the absence of clarity or any good reason other than the power and beauty of love itself.

Life will always be full of these scenarios. We will be wronged, hurt and face the difficulty of offering love and forgiveness when we don’t understand. It does not come easy, yet as followers of Jesus, we have to know that our ability to offer it comes from Christ’s ultimate act of love on the cross. His love paid the price for, covered and redeemed us. He is the standard of love.

When God’s bold, sacrificial love fills our hearts, we’re able to give it beyond our own comprehension. We can apply it generously in ways that we couldn’t imagine otherwise. We can love completely without complete understanding.

We all, at some point, require an inexplicable, long-suffering love. With God’s help, we can both give and receive it. We can show it to others and have it shown to us in our desperate need. We can give it even though someone has mercilessly broken our heart. We can be bold because it is far too often that we don’t understand yet we still desperately need to love.


  1. Ken on April 1, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    It’s so true about showing love even though you may not understand yet. As Christians, it really is meant to be our default position. As Christ first loved you and me, then we responded to Him. It’s so vital that we pay that forward, even when we don’t feel like it, even when it seems that they don’t deserve it.

    As for me, I think about God’s grace extended to me as a real sinner, all that I have said and done. How can I justify not extending that unmerited favor to others? God is saying, “You are an extension of my love to others.”

    Is God bringing someone to mind that needs His grace and love through you? I want to challenge you to go for it and be the peacemaker. Represent yourself, God and the family of God well. Please reply with any thoughts and stories.

    • Jason on April 1, 2019 at 5:11 pm

      That’s a good thought to consider, Ken. In light of God’s grace and love for us, it certainly should be our default position toward others yet it is such a difficult thing to consider and practice consistently in our daily lives. However, loving someone without truly understanding them or their behavior is the essence of being like Jesus.

      Jesus loves us completely WITH complete understanding. He fully loves even though he has absolute knowledge of who we are. He loves anyway. Romans 5:8 says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” That is complete love and something I want to express in my life. Just a small dose of that kind of love could make a huge difference in my life and relationships.

  2. Jeri Centers on April 2, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    From our Tuesday meeting, I was feeling pulled toward Philemon verse 6 and God was saying to me, “Let my light shine before you and let your good works glorify me. Acknowledging the deeply rich, full, experience knowledge of the truth.” What that means for me is to not take credit for the good things you do. Give all the glory and credit to the Lord Jesus.

    • Ken on April 3, 2019 at 2:31 pm

      I really enjoyed what God gave you last night as I read it here again. I am really receiving all that God has for you as you participate in a relationship with Him and share life with others. Can you share some of the good things God has done in your life? I would love to hear some testimony about that.

    • Jason on April 4, 2019 at 10:54 am

      I agree with you, Jeri. It is more fulfilling to give God the credit for the good things we do because it is through Him and his power that we are able to accomplish those things. The credit is given where it is due and that is always a positive and rewarding thing.

    • Heidi on April 5, 2019 at 3:36 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Jeri! God loves it when we give Him all the glory and when we put Him first in everything!

  3. Sam Centers on April 4, 2019 at 3:32 pm

    We know how much he loves us and all he asks us to do is show others in our lives that same love and acceptance. We don’t know what a kind word or small gesture that we show to someone can do for them in a time of need. But it’s up to us to try.

    • Ken on April 5, 2019 at 3:28 pm

      I’m so happy to hear you say that, Sam. Paying forward God’s love helps you to grow. In the Kingdom of Heaven, right here on earth, you get by giving. There are so many people that need God’s love and acceptance, just like you and I do.

    • Heidi on April 5, 2019 at 3:34 pm

      Thanks for sharing Sam! I love to hear God through you.

    • Jason on April 5, 2019 at 3:46 pm

      That’s such a simple but profound thought, Sam. I especially loved the ending… It’s up to us to try. Do you mind sharing when you showed someone a small gesture of love out of your love for Christ?

  4. Heidi on April 5, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    In Philemon 1:4-6 God was showing me that every day is a blessing from Him to bless others, to care for others, pray for them and ask Him what’s on His heart for each person. God is into the business of reconciliation, forgiving, and bringing unity especially in the Christian community. It’s important to talk good about the brothers and sisters as God loves it when we look for the good in others and help build them up. Don’t you want others to be thinking and saying good things about you behind your back?

    God loves and blesses the peacemakers. Start today to help those who God leads you to, to bring peace, forgiveness, unity, and harmony.

    • Ken on April 6, 2019 at 7:14 pm

      Transparency in our communication and love as our ulterior motive, is an awesome life goal. Lord please help us to be more like you in these areas of our life.

      God is saying, “you are my representative, my special messenger, speak love, speak hope, speak life.”

  5. alma schmidt on April 5, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    At the ladies lunch, I wrote a song through the message and the discussion:

    Giving God’s grace, Giving you God’s grace
    Giving you God’s grace, giving God’s grace to others
    It’s about love, it’s about God’s love
    Sharing it with others, sharing his love with others

    He is so beautiful and gives us peace, hope, and his love
    He is an amazing Father, an amazing Father
    Always forgiving us, Always forgiving us
    Thanking you, thank you for your forgiveness

    Giving you Grace, giving you grace
    You are an amazing Father, an amazing Father.

    God said to me He loves us and it is all about us trusting him. Having faith, hope, and joy. He said we are the light and we will glow and lead others to him. I think because he died on the cross for us to forgive our sins, He wants us to forgive others who hurt, bullied, or offended us. He wants us to learn to forgive them and set us free.

    • Heidi on April 6, 2019 at 9:18 am

      Thank you for sharing Alma! I love to hear your songs that we can sing to God and Jesus. I know they love it! It blesses their hearts.

    • Ken on April 6, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      That is so good, Alma. When we pay God’s forgiveness forward to others, we get free as well. God is saying, “I set you free and you are free indeed, so pass it on.”

    • Jason on April 9, 2019 at 1:48 pm

      Thank you for that song, Alma. It made me think of this one about the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ and how it is greater than all of our sin, shortcomings, and failures. It goes like this:

      Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
      Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
      Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
      There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled

      Grace, grace, God’s grace,
      Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
      Grace, grace, God’s grace,
      Grace that is greater than all our sin

      I hope God will use this to bless and encourage you today!

  6. Kathy on April 29, 2019 at 11:50 am

    Alma I always love your songs! You bless others when you share them with us!

    In the Chapter of Philemon, my message from God was “I have touched your life and changed you. The overflow of that should pour out to others around you. Others will then come to me, through my son. The sharing of your faith is important to my Kingdom. You should refresh the hearts of others. Your sins deserve punishment, but My son took your sins to His account (the punishment for your sins) so that you could have life in abundance with me.”

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