Making an Appeal for Reconciliation

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So when love leads you to approach two arguing children, friends, or whatever relationship God puts before you, don’t just command them to get along. Make an appeal.

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—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus—I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. —Philemon 1:8-12

It is stunning that there’s a whole little book in the New Testament that’s not about anything else but helping people reconcile. It’s called Philemon. It gives directions for when you’re on good terms with two people and they’re not on good terms with each other. So, what are you supposed to do? 

First, make your request about reconciliation an appeal, not a requirement. Paul has written this letter to Philemon. Does Paul love Philemon? He sure does. Philemon 4-7 expresses thankfulness for Philemon, encouragement for further ministry, and personal joy from knowing him. I mean, Paul loves this guy. But notice that love does not necessarily mean that you don’t have to challenge somebody about something. Because now in Philemon 8 he says, “Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required... ” And the authority should be respected. But notice that the godly leader—and Paul an exemplary one—doesn’t exercise that authority carelessly. He could say, “Hey! Hey! I’m bold enough. I have courage enough. I have position enough. I have confidence enough to command you to do this!” 

He could do that. But notice he says in verse 9, " ...yet for love's sake.” This isn’t about orders; it’s about love. He says, “I want to submit my behavior to the highest Law. As I choose how to handle this—as I decide how to conduct myself—I don’t just want to act out of my position.”

There is something higher than our position, men. 

There is something higher than our position, moms.

There is something higher than our position, pastors.

There is love. And love is the highest law. 

I love that word. Underline it in your Bible. “Yet for love’s sake, I prefer to appeal” (v.7).  “I’m choosing.” That word appeal is a fantastic word too. It means to beg; to plead; to unburden your heart with all of the emotional capacity that you have. I could demand you to do this, but instead—because of love—I want to appeal to you.

So when love leads you to approach two arguing children, friends, or whatever relationship God puts before you, don’t just command them to get along. Make an appeal.

Journal:

  • How will I use what Paul is teaching me today?
  • In what relationships would it be helpful for me to make an appeal for reconciliation?

Prayer: Father in heaven, I see You more clearly every time I see Your heart for unity. Help me to see the relationships in my life that are ripe for reconciliation and help me approach the parties involved with love and a sincere appeal. I’ll leave the rest up to You, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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