I have enough confidence in Christ to be commanding you to do your duty, yet for love’s sake, I rather appeal to you. - Philemon 1:8
As a seasoned disciple and a recognized Apostle, Paul knew he could give a direct order to Philemon, his wife Apphia, and their son Archippus. But instead of using his position to lean on them, he chose instead to appeal because of his love for Jesus, the church, and the family.Being raised in the military by an authoritarian Sergeant, combined with time in ROTC, I had an idea of what authority might look like. But it was only an idea and an incomplete one at best. My idea of authority lacked the tenderizing humility of the Holy Spirit. I was young, a new pastor, a new father, and folks were clamoring for my attention. Entering a room, unclean spirits would scream as they fled. Over and over, men fawned over me, proclaiming an authority rested upon me—heady stuff for a 30-year-old boy. Basically, I was full of myself with no one to spray water on my hot ego. I lacked someone who could help me examine my real self. Have you ever been there? This passage in Philemon has always convicted me, as I have not always taken the ‘appeal' path with those under my authority. My success and influence grew, and so did my pride. Until one day, a man I had led to the Lord approached me. With great humility and trembling, this brother informed me that my lording it over him made hearing from me difficult. When I did not receive his message well, he brought a few other men…and my wife. He was a wiser man than I. Praise God, I was able to hear a bit better. This was not the last time the Spirit had used brothers to tenderize me, but it was the start. And I am so very grateful for the continuing tenderizing the Spirit has provided me.
Daily Battle Order:
Let’s not force the Lord to keep taking us back to the humility shed. Instead, practice appealing to those in your care. Jesus did not act like the boss, though He is Sovereign Lord. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Be the leader who appeals and does not command.