Probably the most famous “paying for others” is of course Jesus Christ paying for our ransom, our sins, at the cross. Another famous story of paying for others is in the Good Samaritan parable where the Samaritan agrees to pay for the keeping and recovery of the man left half-dead by robbers and found lying in the ditch on the roadside. He tells the innkeeper, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return, I will repay you.”
A not so familiar story is Onesimus. His name literally means profitable or helpful. He was a servant in the house of Philemon, one of note and probably a minister in the church of Colosse, a city of Phrygia. Onesimus obviously stole from Philemon and ran away from him and ended up in jail in Rome where Paul was imprisoned. He was converted to Christ by Paul and became his faithful servant. Paul called him, “my child (or my son) whom I have begotten in prison.” Paul was writing to Philemon to tell him he was sending Onesimus back to him… not just as a servant “but more than a servant, a beloved brother.”
Though the letter to Philemon is full of clever manipulative terms (though true) he wrote this final remark, “If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me. But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account. I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay.”
It is a wonderful thing when someone agrees to pay for what you owe out of compassion and generosity. It is also a wonderful thing to get to be the one paying for someone else.
“Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” Jesus