There’s a noteworthy perspective in the little book of Philemon I’ve been thinking about lately. Philemon is one of the book-studies I suggested to the life-group I’m teaching, so I’m reviewing it on my own.
…though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is requiered, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you…
Paul’s letter to Philemon has the primary purpose of inviting (rather than ordering) him to take back his wayward slave Onesimus, whom Paul has led to Christ. But I really like the way Paul approaches this request. It gives Philemon the opportunity to do something for the best possible reason —love— rather than simply doing what he is told.
It’s funny (if that’s the right word), I did better as a kid when my parents asked me to take out the trash rather than telling me to. Even now I usually do better when I’m asked to do something instead of being ordered to. Are you that way too? Most of us are.
Paul was no dummy, and he knew the emotional flash-back that would probably occur when this man on his front steps hands his former master/employer a letter describing the change in his life and telling —I mean asking— Philemon to take Onesimus back. I think he probably remembered how he’d like to be approached too, since Paul was rather strong-willed himself, and so he says “I know I could just tell you to, and you’d have to comply, but I’d rather ask you a favor, based on your love for Christ and your love for me. Onesimus has trusted Christ since he left your service; I led him to the Lord. Would you re-instate him? Please? Thanks – I knew you would.”
Something to think about—