How Appealing to Others, Not Demanding of Them, Enhances Peacemaking
Philemon reveals Paul’s heart in brokering reconciliation between Onesimus, a runaway slave, and his owner.
Having affirmed his friend and prayed for him, Paul next broaches his appeal to him.
Don’t miss the choice he makes here in terms of the approach. He could have pulled apostolic rank and simply told Philemon what to do.
He admits as much in v. 8. And he has the moxie (bold enough in Christ) to do it too!
But no. I prefer to appeal to you. He says it differently in greater detail in v. 14.
But I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.
He says it even more simply at the top of v. 9—yet for love’s sake.
Paul so wants Philemon to profit spiritually in every way through this relational transaction.
“Dig deep, man, in the depth of your heart and let your choices flow from the reservoir of gospel love contained within.”
How much more God-honoring and glorious a way to resolve things than a begrudging, externally constrained, kiss-and-make-up superficial affair!
If the greatest is love (1 Cor. 13:13), then aim for that in your peacemaking.
Set the bar that high and entreat, appeal, beg, plead for hard hearts to melt into grace-laced loving ones.
Alfred Poirier, in The Peacemaking Pastor, writes:
Mediation is when parties in conflict call upon a third party to assist them in reaching a mutually agreed upon settlement of their dispute. The key word here is assist. . . . Mediators do not decide for the disputants what their agreement will be. The decision is left to the disputants to mutually determine. However, Christian mediators do help shape the final agreement by giving wise biblical counsel (210).
And they shape it by how they call for response to that counsel—sincere, passionate, appeal.
Effective peacemakers go out of their way to broker reconciliation between estranged parties—leading with specific affirmation, praying with singular aim, and engaging with sincere appeal.
How does your approach as a peacemaker compare with these three virtues?
Please note: I will be traveling outside the country for the next two weeks and unable to post. See you in November!