I recall a few occasions as a child, when a particular sibling (who shall remain nameless), tried to give me some “marching orders.” My reply was, “You’re not my boss!”
In Philemon v.8-9a Paul reminds Philemon that in his impending request he could be authoritative, dictatorial and bold, yet because of love, genuine Christian love, he graciously made a kind-hearted appeal.
“Therefore, although in Christ (as an apostle with the authority of Christ behind him), I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love.”
Let me remind those who hold leadership that authority does not imply authoritarianism. High-handed ‘bossy’ leaders have no place in God’s kingdom and need to be challenged for their “unChristlike” conduct. The one who is the KING of kings took the form of a servant (Philippians 2).
“yet I appeal to you on the basis of love.”
Paul’s relationship was marked by love. Did not Christ indicate that all men (including unbelievers) would recognize His followers because of their love for one another? (John 13:34,35) If the ‘greatest of these is love’ and I Corinthians 13 portrays an entire chapter on this essential fruit of the Spirit, we must ask God to produce it in our lives. We are not naturally loving, yet this is no excuse for those indwelt by God’s Spirit. God can graciously make us what we are not, and for that we praise Him!