Philemon: Forgiveness that Leads to Reconciliation, part one

What follows is a manuscript from a sermon I have preached on a few occasions.  I walk through the whole book of Philemon.  Love to have you follow along in this series.  My prayer is that it will inspire you to “forgive as you have been forgiven…”
The rest of the 5 part series is here.


I want to start out with a bit of a story to give you a window into my story.  In high school, a good friend convinced his dad to let him take us out on their boat out on the Kings river.  This was a huge deal for my 16-year-old friend because it was the first time that his dad let him take it out on his own.  So, the four of us went out on the river, but what we failed to mention to his dad was that we really were going on the river with a mission in mind…let me show you.

Now I bet your wondering what that could be for?  Well, one of the guys thought it would be great fun to shoot at the swallows that had made their home under the overpasses on the river.

Now when you see this next picture, you are going to think that I am barely (if at all) a Christian (ha, ha!)…

Some of you are thinking that this is a very dumb mission… I now agree.  Some of the others in here are thinking to themselves: “Why would these mean guys go and shoot one of baby Jesus’ little birdies?  I think that it all comes down to the fact that we decided to play the “dumb card.”  We knew what we were doing was wrong… but we didn’t think that it was going to be a big deal to push the rules a little bit.

At that point we got into the water and as soon as we made it to the first bridge, it was time to ‘bust some caps’ (or shoot) at some defenseless birdies.  We would one pump ‘em and shoot… until we finally ended up getting a couple swallows.  Then, into a black trash bag they went, so that we would have our trophy.  In spite of my bad decision about hunting little birdies for cruel fun, I actually love animals and although I am not a vegetarian, I think the only type of bird that I could shoot these days is a “clay pigeon.”

Well, we were feeling as though we were no longer boys and had graduated into manliness when all of the sudden a boat began to follow us in the distance.  Then we heard a deep voice… “Pull over!” (it was like, “God? Is that you?).  Then, this boat began to make a loud sound, and all lights started to flash.  We knew that we were in for it.  At this moment, the owner of our boat began to tear up and said,

“My dad is going to kill me!”

I thought in that moment: Yeah, your dad probably is going to kill you as long as these sheriffs don’t do it before he gets to you. So, we docked the boat and had to meet the sheriffs on the shore.

“Do you boys have firearms on this water vehicle?”

Of course we had to say yes.

“My partner and I received several reports that a group of boys were shooting at the endangered birds on this river… that you were killing swallows.  You know, it’s a several thousand dollar fine to kill a swallow in California”

Then, the sheriffs proceeded to scream and holler at us for the next half an hour.

I can remember one thing that is okay to say from this stage…

One of them looked at me and said…

“I like your braces boy, but you ain’t goin’ to need them after your daddy gets through with you.”

I said,

“Why… cause he’s going to knock my teeth out, sir?”

He didn’t answer me with words, but with a nod, I knew what he had been referring to.

Well, they finally let us go after calling all of our parents and giving us a good chewing out.

Our punishment in this conflict was that we were banned from using the boat in the Kings River for the rest of the summer.  We had chosen to create a conflict that luckily was in a sense “forgiven” by these sheriffs who let us off easy.

Now, why did I tell you this mischievous story (besides the funny factor)?  It’s because this serves as ridiculous example of how in life we often find ourselves in the midst of conflict.  This is especially true in our relationships with each other.  Tonight I want to look at what a proper Christian response to conflict is, by focusing on 2 words: forgiveness and reconciliation.

Turn in your bibles to a small and neglected book: Philemon






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  • Charles

    I loved that story ten years ago just as much as I do now. Good lesson learned.

    • Very cool that you actually know the story!!!!! Not very many people do who hear me tell it 🙂

      Hope your doing good CJ!