“The Art of Restoration”
The little letter of Philemon is a marvelous example of Christian diplomacy, which someone once described as “The art of getting someone to do something willingly that they wouldn’t normally do by force”. It serves as a great blueprint of how to negotiate change in the most difficult of all things to change, THE HUMAN HEART! The “test tube” of Paul’s transformational experiment is the most difficult of all human hearts to change, Christians and in the most difficult type of Christian to change, a pastor. Paul is upfront in what the remedy to effect change is and isn’t:
- Vs. 8 It’s NOT by compulsion: There is no heavy handedness or threat. Even more amazing to me is that based on Paul’s position he could have employed this tactic, and perhaps even got favorable results. The question that Paul doesn’t answer in verse 8 is, “Why not use what would get the proper results?” As you read the rest of this short letter the answer is quite obvious: “The result wasn’t in getting the person to do the right, thing. No the result was getting them to do the right thing for the right reason!” You can command, legislate, dictate and otherwise FORCE a person to do the right thing but it is temporary if it is not first accompanied by a change of HEART! And a change of heart cannot be commanded it must be WON!
- Vs. 9 It’s by love: Only love and grace applied by the Spirit of God can cause a heart to do what it normally has no interest in, considering others more highly than its self. Paul spends no time at all on why “compulsion” doesn’t work and all of his time in this brief letter in why “love” is affective. He outlines two key parts to loves work on the heart:
- 1:11-16 The value of others above self: The first tact of love is to convince the heart of the profitability and value of others above self. Paul doesn’t deny that at one time Onesimus wasn’t valuable or profitable in fact he readily admits it. There is a good deal of time spent on Onesimus’ failure but there is an equal amount of time spent on not only his change but the reason for that change, (Jesus). Paul also gives examples and first hand testimony of that change.
- 1:17-22 The debt paid on our behalf that cause us to be valuable: The 2nd tact of love is to remind you of the fact that at one time you were equally unprofitable and unlovable. The work of Christ’s love is the reason we are now of equal value to those that we owed a debt to. Christ forgave our debt and others have also forgiven our debt. Therefore, we demonstrate this as a fact in our own lives by also forgiving the debt others owe us by their wrong doing towards us.
This has been Pastor Dale, Blessings!