“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.” Philemon 8-9
Growing up, the question, “Do you want to_____?” was a common one in my household.
» “Do you want to take out the trash?”
» “Do you want to clean the bathroom?”
» “Do you want to wash the dishes?”
These were common questions. The gulf between a truthful answer, and the expected answer was always extreme. It often sounded like this Q and A.
“Do I want to stop playing Mario Kart to take out the trash?”
“No, Mom, I would prefer to keep playing.” That would have been my truthful response, but I knew that was never a viable option.
The question used to drive me crazy, but as I look back on it (and have begun to use the question more myself), I realize what was meant by it. I wasn’t being asked what I enjoyed more: taking out the trash or playing video games. I was being asked if my love for my mother could compel me to put down the controller to help her.
Love is compelling. When we respond to love, it edifies our soul. That is why Paul didn’t command Philemon to forgive Onesimus; he desired what was best for Philemon. Paul wanted Philemon to know more clearly the love of Christ in sharing it with a new brother. That love can and should move us, as we believe it did Philemon. Does the love of Christ move you?
Jesus, thank you for loving me when I didn’t love you. Never let me forget the depth of your love. Make your love so clear to me that it moves me to share love and forgiveness with others in our broken world. Amen.