The Emancipation Proclamation was announced by president Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862. This document which freed slaves and criminalized future slave owners became law on January 1st, 1863. Unfortunately, the news of this decree did not reach Texas for another year, keeping many African Americans enslaved well beyond this date. When freedom finally arrived, individuals were able to move from have to toward thank you.
No longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord, Philemon 1:16.
During the first century, a man named Onesimus was a slave owner, overseeing a young man named Philemon. Serving as a slave prepared Philemon to be a faithful servant of Paul. Based upon the passage above, Paul came to see Philemon as a brother in Christ, not a slave. Thus, Paul’s recognized his devotion behind to scenes to ensure the success of Paul’s missionary journeys. Philemon moved beyond having to do something because he was forced to by Onesimus. Rather, Philemon’s work was inspired by a spirit of thanksgiving.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
When anyone decides to leave their former way of life to follow Jesus, this transition doesn’t always mesh well. Attitudes, behavior and habits are hard to break, especially for those who become addicted to harmful things. Understanding grace, mercy and forgiveness seem easy, but where a have to desire enters this equation, joy can be lost. Christians shouldn’t go the church, pray and read the Bible because they think they have to. Rather, these spiritual disciplines should be done out of a spirit of gratitude, remembering that you have been saved by grace through faith. May this blog convince you to move from a have to mentality toward a thankful heart.
by Jay Mankus