Paul is giving Philemon a blank check instead of asking him to simply forgive Onesimus or bringing out Philemon’s own debt, he is willing to pay whatever the runaway slave owes to his master. We must ask where this mentality of love and sacrifice for others comes from. In Acts 9:1-2, Saul is not a warm-hearted, loving person – he is filled with hatred and malice. How does someone who used to breathe murder and threats become a person who breathes love and sacrifice?
In Romans 5:8 Paul says that the death of Jesus was not a simple death but a sacrifice for our sin. Cross is the perfect demonstration of God’s love for us and when we deeply realize the amount of debt that was paid for us, we experience love that changes us from inside out – we enter in a new covenant with God where we no more live trying to become better people by an external standard, but, as prophesied in Jeremiah 31:33, when we receive Christ, God writes his law in our minds and hearts.
Charge it to me – this is the mentality of Gospel – the opposite is the mentality of the law, bringing out the past and reminding others how much they owe me. But Paul was not a self-made man, but a prisoner of Christ, owing everything to Jesus, understanding how great a debtor he is. When we realize the greatness of God’s mercy and love, we can’t help but live with the same heart and say ‘charge it to my account.’ What remains in us is deep thankfulness and obligation to pass on the grace we have received. Let us live carrying each other’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ – Galatians 6:2.