Colossians 4:9 “With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.”
The statement about Onesimus being one of the church would have never happened had Philemon not forgiven him. Imagine what would have happened to this church had Philemon not found it within himself to forgive someone who had wronged him. The church would not have had a faithful member that the pastor could depend on in his area of service. The church would not have acquired a “beloved brother.” Paul would not have had someone he could depend on to deliver his message to this church. Souls would likely not have been saved as Onesimus was a faithful brother in the Lord, and the church would have been minus one church member. The power of forgiveness made Onesimus one of them.
My friend, you will never know the power your forgiveness will have on one’s life, the church, and souls being saved until you get over your bitterness and forgive. The fact that you have been hurt is not at issue; what is at issue is that God can use the one who has done wrong and wants to get right, but their usefulness is limited if you don’t forgive. I would hate to think that my desire to hold onto my hurt and not forgive would keep God’s Word and Gospel from helping others. When I look at the story of Onesimus, I see several areas that I would like to share with you about the power of forgiveness.
First, the power of forgiveness affects the ability to restore the fallen. Many fallen believers will never be used by God again because one bitter believer who won’t forgive. Many fallen believers who have gotten right with God will be limited because of the vitriol message the hurt believer says about the one who has gotten right with God. Had Philemon gone on social media to destroy the fallen, Onesimus would have never become a beloved brother in the church. Many churches are lacking a beloved brother because someone hurt has taken it on themselves to destroy another believer.
Second, the power of forgiveness affects the future of a church. We never know what God will do with someone in your church or another church until you forgive them. There is a church somewhere that could use you to forgive someone who you feel has wronged you. To go on your vendetta to destroy someone only hurts the Gospel’s message and Christ’s ability to help a church through the life of someone who has gotten right about their wrong.
Third, the power of forgiveness affects the preaching of God’s Word. Onesimus became a preacher of God’s Word because Philemon was willing to forgive. It would be sad that a future preacher is kept from preaching because you won’t forgive them. Maybe it is not a future preacher, but maybe the one you won’t forgive is a future Sunday school teacher, future bus worker, or a future ministry worker who would help many others to do right. You will never know what your forgiveness will do in the life of the forgiven until you forgive.
Fourth, the power of forgiveness affects the possibility of souls being saved. The saddest part about unforgiveness is that the one who is not forgiven may never become the soul winner they could be if you would forgive. I would hate to think my lack of forgiveness would send people to Hell. Your ability to forgive does affect the eternity of many; don't let your hurt send people to Hell.