What about love?

Philemon. One of the shortest books in the Bible. Only 25 verses. Certainly easy enough to sit down and read it in a few minutes, yet important and inspired, as it was included in the New Testament Canon. Why was this brief letter from Paul to Philemon deemed “worthy” of inclusion?

My Bible

A recent read through for me pointed something out that I had never seen before. There are several themes in Philemon – devotion to ministry, forgiveness; but it was a third theme that leaped off of the page to my heart. Paul mentions this theme twice but most notably here:

Philemon Verses 8 – 9a:

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…

The theme of “invoking our rights” seems to be coming up again and again in my personal life. Determining which hills, if any, are to die for.

Short story – Onesimus had served Paul well, and Paul was very fond of him. But Onesimus had wronged his former master prior to serving with Paul (this former master was Philemon), and Paul knew that peacemaking and reconciliation was in order.

Paul could’ve insisted, by the spiritual authority he possessed as an elder, that Philemon take back this person who had wronged him, Onesimus, and restored him to his former position with forgiveness. But Paul does not fall onto his spiritual authority to make a demand.

“Yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you.”

He could’ve made sure that Philemon would’ve listened and obeyed his instructions. He could’ve left nothing to chance.

“Yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you.”

He could’ve ordered that the person carrying the letter, Tychicus, stayed with Philemon, ensuring his compliance with Paul’s request, and returned to Paul to report on Philemon’s obedience.

“Yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you.”

Paul could’ve left no doubt. But instead, he gave Philemon an opportunity to grow and to arrive at the right decision, leaving it in the Spirit’s hands.

“Yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you.”

Wow. Think about that for a moment.

What if our church business meeting speakers would begin espousing their opinions and views with this statement- “Yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you.”

What if, in the process of a possible church split, the 2 parties would begin their negotiations with this statement- “Yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you.”

What if our deacons , elders, trustees, board members, and lay membership, in the midst of strife and conflict would begin with this statement- “Yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you.”

What if our pastors and church leaders would approach church conflict from this angle – “Yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you.”

What if, in the midst of a marriage that is falling apart, the 2 individuals would begin their conversations with this statement – “Yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you.”

Modern church history is full of examples of people and leaders invoking spiritual authority to demand action and justice, and in some cases, this is rightfully so. Do not overlook that the scriptures often teaches us that appealing to love (and to other fruits of the spirit) is pleasing to God. That enduring persecution, not bucking it, produces godliness. It doesn’t mean we are supposed to become spiritual door-mats, ready to be walked over at all times.

It does mean that we should be sensitive in every situation, seeking to emulate our Savior as we engage and react to not only the world, but to fellow believers as well.

Love should be at the root of it all.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

lovegreatest

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One thought on “What about love?

  1. ernie carey says:

    An opportunity to grow, and to arrive is most definately in the Spirit’s hands! Well said Harvey. This is the season to focus on our Savior Jesus. Yet for love’s sake,…..Jesus willingly went to the cross, was tempted, and demonstrated how much He loved me, in spite of how I was to Him! Yet for love’s sake, it all begins at home where we live. If you believe that, take the next 10 seconds and decide if you would follow Him? It is the Spirit’s hand’s that guide us! ernie

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