Today you should read: Philemon
Bold enough to command….but loving enough to appeal
The book of Philemon comes with an incredible story as the background. Philemon was a Christian in the city of Colossae. Philemon was wealthy and had a bondservant named Onesimus. Onesimus wrongly fled from his service and went to Rome, a place where it would be easy to get lost.
By the incredible providence of God, Paul came across Onesimus in Rome and led him to Christ. Onesimus served Paul, and I’m sure after conversations, and discipleship, Onesimus shared his past with Paul. Paul then sent Onesimus back to Philemon, to make things right.
This book is Paul’s letter to Philemon, requesting that he take Onesimus back and treat him with a newfound love, in light of Onesimus coming to Christ.
This is an incredible set of circumstances. And I think what is just as incredible, is Paul’s tone in this letter. A snapshot of Paul’s tone can be seen in verses 8-16,
“Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.”
In the beginning of this snapshot, in verses 8-9, Paul says that although he is bold enough to command Philemon about how to respond, for love’s sake he would rather appeal.
This shows incredible love and humility from Paul, as well as his wisdom on how to approach people and situations.
Often times it can be easy for us to use our positional power when it’s not needed. It can also be easy for us to use our positional power even though it wouldn’t be the most loving thing to do.
Like Paul, we want to let love and wisdom be our guide when communicating with others. Most times when we use our positional power, we do so because it is easier and we are serving ourselves and our own idols, instead of acting in a way that is best for the other person.
Paul wanted to build up Philemon and he wanted restoration for Onesimus. In order to accomplish that, his best approach was love and humility. Not a lording-over type of leadership.
How can you be guided by love in your interactions, rather than by serving yourself?
Posted by: Sam Cirrincione