Accordingly, although I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required,

yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus—I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) Philemon 1:8–11

Lord Jesus, these few verses tell a profound grace-story—the story of how one man’s “useless” slave became another man’s beloved son. Stories like this show and tell the gospel in a shocking and beautiful way.

Thank you for welcoming, engaging, and rescuing us—even as Paul loved Onesimus. You found us, bound us to your heart, and are growing us by the daily-ness of your mercies and the riches of your grace. Thank you!

Most definitely, like Philemon, we too have experienced hurt, betrayal, and loss in life. But forgive us for labeling anyone as “useless.” Shame and contempt never brought life and healing to anyone. Thank you for not rehearsing our failures, Jesus; forgive us when we do that to others.

Paul saw something in Onesimus that Philemon didn’t see. You saw something in us that no one else saw. Enable us to see what you see in others—all others. Help us look at people through the lens of the gospel. Everyone is an image bearer of God and we’re all broken, equally in need of your mercy and grace.

Who have we already branded “useless,” with either our actual words or unspoken words? Who have we written off? Who have we renamed “failure,” “disappointment,” or “never-to-be-trusted-again”? Forgive us, Lord

Give us grace, wisdom, and strength to love others as you love us. So very Amen we pray, in your chain-breaking, life-transforming name.