Philemon 1:9 “Yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.”
When Paul asked Philemon to forgive Onesimus for “love’s sake,” he was begging him for the sake of what God’s love can do in the lives of others to forgive someone who had wronged him. Paul understood that this situation had more at stake than just Onesimus's wrong. Paul did not deny that Onesimus had done wrong, but he understood that the need to forgive the wrong imposed on Philemon was bigger than Philemon.
The plea for “love’s sake” is still needed today. I am not going to say that it won’t be easy, but when you see that for the sake of God’s love it is critical that you forgive is when you will find it in yourself to forgive those who have hurt you. Let me share several thoughts about the importance of doing the right thing for the sake of God’s love.
First, forgive for the sake of God’s love. When you find in yourself the power to forgive those who have deeply hurt you, you show the power that God’s love can have on anyone’s life. God’s love gave Him the power to forgive you, so if His love dwells in you, you can find within yourself to forgive others no matter what they have done to you.
Second, for the sake of God’s love, get over your issues. My friend, the power that God’s love can have on one’s life is worthy of you getting over your issues about someone’s wrong towards you. God’s love can change anyone’s life. It was God’s love that saved you from Hell, and your ability to forgive just may help one, if not hundreds more to be saved. If the only reason you get over your issues with someone is so that God’s love can save others, that in itself is worthy of moving on.
Third, for the sake of God’s love, see the power of God’s grace. God’s grace is capable of using anyone, but sometimes God’s grace is inhibited because someone won’t forgive the one who has done wrong. Not to forgive someone because of the “magnitude” of their sin is to say that God’s grace is not great enough to forgive anyone. If God’s grace can’t overlook one person’s sin, then God’s grace is not great enough to cover your sins.
Fourth, for the sake of God’s love, see the potential of the fallen. Paul saw the potential of Onesimus, and that is why he pleaded with Philemon to forgive him. Inside of every person is the potential of God’s love changing them and using them as a trophy of grace, but that potential is often not realized because of believers who won’t see others through the love of God. When you look at others through God’s love and grace is when you will see their potential despite anything they have done.
Fifth, restore the fallen for the sake of God’s love. When one is restored, the power of their testimony will impact many because of their story of God’s grace in their life. Onesimus eventually became a great believer in a church, but that would have never happened had Philemon not seen the importance of forgiving for the sake of God’s love.
My friend, if there is any reason that you should forgive others it is for the sake of God’s love. If you struggle with forgiving someone, let me challenge you to forgive them for the sake of what God’s love can do through them.