It's been said that the six hardest words to say are, "I was wrong. Please forgive me."
Many find it equally difficult to say these four words in return: "Yes, I forgive you."
One of the lessons that the little letter of Philemon can teach us is the importance of practicing forgiveness.
I call it "practicing" because a forgiving nature doesn't come naturally.
We can be hurt by the wrongs committed against us. We might suffer loss. We might feel pain. We can be abandoned. Our reputation might take an unjust hit.
The person inflicting such damage may come to their senses. With sincerity of heart they approach you to seek reconciliation and forgiveness. They speak to you the six hardest words to say. How do you respond?
Here's an idea: Perhaps you can quickly review "every good thing (you) have in Christ" (Philemon, verse six). You remember the humiliation of Christ - His immaculate conception and humble birth; His unjust suffering and His cruel death. You think of the price your Savior God paid so that you might receive the forgiveness for the wrongs you've committed against the Holy God. You remember the grace of God in your own life. Then, through the power of the Holy Spirit, you extend that grace to the person who seeks forgiveness from you.
What can happen? Reconciliation can take place between you and a friend, just as it did between Philemon and Onesimus.
If you've not read the epistle to Philemon in a while, do so this week. Won't take long! Read how the apostle Paul teaches the practice of forgiveness to a dear friend. Perhaps you need a lesson as well. Read and let the forgiving love of Your Savior heal your hearts and give you strength to extend God's grace to others.