The Bible Edge
Everyone needs an Edge, Believers can have the Bible Edge
Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.
Paul wrote this personal letter to Philemon on behalf of a new believer in Christ, Onesimus. The Apostle needed to ask an almost impossible thing of his friend. This small letter is a tremendous lesson on how to appeal to another with powerful persuasion. The letter starts with letting Philemon know that the action he is about to ask will be asked in the audience of Timothy, Apphia, and Archippus and his church. In the salutation of this letter, Paul calls Philemon …dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer and extends to him grace and peace from God and His Son, Jesus Christ. He lets Philemon know that he prays for him, thanks God for him, and rejoices in the reports of the man’s love and faith toward Christ and the saints. He goes on, you can read it in just a few minutes.
The Apostle is doing more than “buttering him up”, or “setting him up”, for no doubt every word that Paul writes is true. He is just reminding Philemon of his testimony and faith. He even reminds his friend that he, Philemon, owes Paul a debt (see verse 19). Paul ends this letter stating that he knows that this good man will do that which he asks and more. How could a man resist?
If Philemon acquiesced, he would “let” Paul experience joy over his decision. This man, Philemon, had it within his power to let Paul be filled with joy, or to not let him be filled with joy. Hopefully, he did. But think on this, in so many ways at various times we each have it within our power to let others have joy or to let them not have joy. That is amazing. Such power has God given to us that we would have this ability.
So, the next time someone implores you with a request. Know that you have the power to be a blessing or to withhold a blessing. If possible, let them have their joy. Remember, Paul was not asking for something unlawful, or unrighteous, or even against any rule or regulation. He was asking this man to do something that was purely in his power to do. Receive Onesimus, the one-time unprofitable servant as a brother in Christ or hold him accountable making him pay for every jot and tittle of his wrongdoing.
There is an edge here, a Bible edge and that is this: when you have the power to make a decision that impacts others joy and life, think about it, pray about it, consider the one making the request, and try to let joy be the end result. In doing so, a good seed will be planted and that seed’s fruit will come back to you increased and sometimes overflowing. How about you, would you have granted Paul’s favor?
William Howe, Ph.D.