Our daughter, Katya, has a splinter or two buried deep. But really, don’t we all?
A splinter buried deep gets covered with skin, but it’s still there. It might work itself out eventually. Or it might get infected. But, if it stays buried long enough, the surrounding tissue will harden holding onto to that splinter making it so very difficult to tease out.
And I’m wondering, do you have splinter buried deep?
Think back. When the splinter first penetrated, it hurt, at first. May have even made you angry or cry. But you buried it deep, let the skin cover over. You’ve gone on with life. And it looks like all is well.
But all is not well.
Philemon was wealthy. And he was a good guy. Paul had come to his town, Colossae, and told him about Jesus. His heart opened up and his life was changed. Philemon and his wife, Apphia started a house church and great things were happening. But here’s the thing, Philemon was also a slave owner.
One day, one of his slaves, Onesimus, stole something from him and made a run for it. Really he made a sail for it across the Mediterranean and ended up in Rome. Somehow he connected with Paul who was in house prison at the time. Pretty amazing, right?
Over time Paul comes to love Onesimus, teaches him about Jesus, and considers him a son. At some point, Onesimus and Paul have a “come to Jesus moment.” The truth is out. And as much as Paul would like Onesimus to stay with him, he just can’t.
Meanwhile, back in Colossae, Philemon has moved on. He’s making money, hosting a church, caring for people in his community, and being a pretty great guy. He was irritated at first, angry even about this Onesimus thing. But, from all outward appearances, he’s moved on. All is well.
One day he hears a knock on his door. It’s a courier with a letter from his dear friend, Paul. And it’s not to the church. Paul has written a letter directly to him.
The courier seems a bit nervous. Philemon doesn’t pay much attention because he’s much more interested in the letter from Paul. He invites the courier to wait for a reply while he reads the letter from his dear friend and mentor.
Philemon had a splinter buried deep, but it looked like all was well. Rather than festering, it was simply being encased in hardened tissue. He had gone on with life …
living by faith,
teaching people about Jesus,
and bringing joy to others.
And yet this buried deep splinter was hindering his impact. (Philemon 1:4-7)
Teasing up the splinter, cutting away at the hardened tissue is hard, painful. Especially when we encase the splinter, protect ourselves, smile, and saying, “All is well.”
But, if you and I are going to make lasting impact, we’ve got to cut away the hardened tissue and tease up the splinter buried deep.
Over these next few weeks, we’re going to sit under this scalpel of a letter Paul wrote to his friend, Philemon. We’re going to see what Paul says to Philemon, and to us. And I think we’ll find that it might just be the thing for our hearts too.
If all looks well in your life, would you be willing to consider that you might just have a splinter buried deep?
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