Requests carry risk.
though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to what is required,
yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you…
Requests get our desires out into the open, maybe even exposing a need.
Paul had the “authority” over Philemon. He was the leader of the church, the father of the community of faith. He had paid the price for them to hear the gospel. So in this community of faith where he could have made demands based on his position of authority, he chose to go a different direction – the direction of love.
Paul never lacked boldness, but in this situation, he chose love.
Could it be because he is making a request for Philemon to not use his authority, but to choose love?
Philemon has the authority legally, as Onesimus’ owner, to press charges on his run-away slave. He has all legal rights, while his slave has none.
Paul is appealing to him not about power, but about love, compassion, mercy.
All of us have a certain amount of power in our relationships. If nothing else, we have the power to leave the relationship. We also have power to hurt the other person, or the power to encourage the other person.
Paul is making the point clear – Philemon can use his boldness, his power, his position to hurt Onemimus. Or…he can use it for “love’s sake” and express not just love for his brother in faith, but his love for a man who has been a father in faith.
Paul modeled the choice before he made the request, not using his authority but deferring to love.
How can I use my boldness, power, position in relationships to encourage others, to show love, mercy and forgiveness…
For “love’s sake?”