Countless times she said to me, “My dear…,” and I admit that I braced myself. Truth was getting ready to hit me in the face! More than a few times, after a teaching she would say to me, “My dear, you must first ‘flesh it out.'” It took years of walking with the Lord before I understood what ‘fleshing it out’ meant.
While in jail, Paul wrote a letter to Philemon about a man named Onesimus, to whom he’d become a spiritual father. Obvious change had taken place in this spiritual son’s life. “He was useless to you before; now he’s useful to both of us. I’m sending him back to you, but it feels like I’m cutting off my right arm in doing so.” [Philemon 10-12 The Message]
Paul came to value the relationship with Onesimus ~ one he called a “comrade-in-arms.”  He continued…”You lost him for a while. You’re getting him back now for good–and no mere slave this time, but a true Christian brother!” Paul took responsibility for anything that Onesimus had done to cause damage or to whom he owed a debt. He validated him, and said to Philemon that his accepting Onesimus “will do my heart good.” [18-20]
Father sees us through the eyes of love and redemption. Spiritual fathers and mothers accept their proteges as no less than their very own children. While parenting, mentoring, teaching/training [whichever term we use], no doubt truth must be served…that is, biblical truth that alters the soul.
Onesimus, probably a captive audience to the Apostle, hand delivered Paul’s letter to Philemon. The signature proof would come as Onesimus lived his life out in his walk and his talk every hour of the day. We ‘flesh out’ the Word of God the same way. Our renewed souls are living epistles, written by the hand of God ~ oftentimes delivered through spiritual parents who halt us in our tracks with opening words something like: “My dear!”