Summary: In any non-profit organization, especially like a church, you have to persuade people, either to invest time in the church or to do something that is right, or change an area that they might have chosen. How do you persuade people? Paul gives a beautiful
Cicero's (106 - 43 BC) was one of the most powerfully, persuasive people of his day. He had this to say about the public in 1st Century BC, Rome.
The poor: work and work,
The rich: exploit the poor,
The soldier: protects both,
The taxpayer: pays for all three,
The wanderer: rests for all four,
The drunk: drinks for all five,
The banker: robs all six,
The lawyer: misleads all seven,
The doctor: kills all eight,
The undertaker: buries all nine,
The Politician: lives happily on the account of all ten.
Andrew Young, a Senator in the US said it like this:
"Influence is like a savings account. The less you use it, the more you've got."
President Clinton once said in a speech at Galesburg, III, "Running a country is a lot like running a cemetery; you've got a lot of people under you and nobody's listening.
In any non-profit organization, especially like a church, you have to persuade people, either to invest time in the church or to do something that is right, or change an area that they might have chosen. Paul gives a beautiful letter of persuasion. It is only one chapter.
The Setting: Paul and Onesimus
Apparently, Paul led Philemon to a faith in Christ. It is implied in some of the things he says. He also had something to do with a young man named, Onesimus. Somehow, when Paul was in prison, Onesimus became a fellow-worker with Paul. And we do not know the details, but at some point, Onesimus is having a discussion with Paul. He has come to Christ in Paul's ministry, and in their discussion, he makes a confession.
He says, "Brother Paul, I am a run-away slave. I used to be a servant. It is illegal for me to be a run-away slave and I might even be killed."
May be he was noticed, and someone recognized him. He used to be Philemon's slave. So how does Paul deal with the whole issue? According to Roman law, slaves did not have any rights. They were thought of as property. Slavery is kind of like an employer-employee relationship.
I have read different documents, and some say 1/3rd to ½ of everybody in Rome were slaves! This was the common way of just getting by. You are caught in a debt, you become a slave, maybe for seven years or so, until you pay it off. Many today are in debt and maybe we are slaves to the company that we owe money to. The debtor becomes a slave to the lender.
So, Paul is writing to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus. Paul sends Onesimus back to Philemon, and says to Philemon, "I am sending your slave back to you, and I am hoping that you would set him free, so that he could come back and work together in the ministry. That is the context of this letter.
From this letter, we can learn 5 important lessons:
1. Base your persuasion on Relationship, not authority.
2. Let integrity begin with you.
3. Be the first to give.
4. Be personally present.
5. Appeal to people's best.
1. Never force someone to do what is right (Base your persuasion on Relationship, not authority) - Philemon Vs. 8-14
Honor the freedom of the other person. Never manipulate someone to do something simply because you think it is right, instead; give that person a genuine, completely free choice. If he chooses against your will, he will stand before God and give an account. If he chooses what is right, he will enjoy the full reward of the freely-made, right choice. By the blessing of freedom, I mean, the freedom to do the right thing freely, without being forced to do it. The person who does that receives an extra-ordinary reward in giving. There is joy and spiritual reward when you do the right thing, freely.
Encouraging the Corinthian church to follow the example of generosity of the church in Macedonia, Paul writes: 2 Cor.8:8.
So Paul says, I am not commanding you or forcing you, but I am just saying, demonstrate the generosity inspired in you by the Holy Spirit, and inspired by the generosity of Jesus Himself.
2. Let integrity begin with you. (spelled "me")
Paul had the spiritual right to demand of Philemon the services of his run-away slave. He had brought Philemon up in the love and knowledge of God. Onesimus was a free man before God. In what Paul writes, he treats Onesimus as equal with himself. And he wants Philemon to receive him, as if he were receiving Paul. In Christ, there is no slave and free, we are all equal and one.
Spiritually speaking Philemon owed Paul a debt, and Paul could make a demand, but Paul chose to abide by the law of the day, and to do the right thing as far as that law was concerned. He sent Onesimus back, gave him back to his master, and asked.