Friday, September 25, 2009

Paul's Shrewdness

Philemon 1:17-25 (ESV)
So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. [18] If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. [19] I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. [20] Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.
[21] Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. [22] At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.
[23] Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, [24] and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.
[25] The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

So if you consider me your partner, again Paul show some shrewd acumen here. Philemon cannot be on the defensive at all here. Philemon is in the position of having a highly respected friend come to him as one who is not even equal with him. It is hard to imagine that Philemon thought himself superior to Paul. And yet here is Paul asking Philemon to consider him as a partner. He doesn’t tell Philemon, hey we are partners so what do you say. No, here Paul says if you consider me your partner…. Paul leaves it up to Philemon to decide whether or not Paul is his partner. He doesn’t ask Philemon to become his partner in the work. This is shrewd! I don’t know what extra biblical evidence, or even biblical evidence there might be that Philemon complied with Paul’s desire. But I fail to see how he could not have, after this letter. And people actually have the audacity to say Paul didn’t have the aptitude to be a pastor! Pastors could learn a lot about their craft studying him, not only what to present, but how one might go about presenting it.

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