Notice that when Paul writes Philemon, he says he didn’t want to do anything without having Philemon’s consent. He wanted Philemon to help because it was something he was willing to do, not something that he was forced into doing. The Bible speaks about this desire and purposeful decision we make to do something, and it comes from the heart. We know that when we are giving, we are to not give reluctantly or because we are forced, but to give what is on our heart (2 Corinthians 9:7). If we are doing anything for God because we are forced to do it, or because we feel we should do it, but it is not in our heart to do it, that’s not being real with God. It’s also not what Jesus had in mind when He spoke of discipleship.
Paul wanted Philemon to make his own choice in the matter. If Philemon just did what Paul said because Paul told him to do it, it does not give the opportunity for forgiveness and reconciliation. It also does not open the doors for what God had for all parties involved. It was important for this reconciliation to take place. It was important for there to be this opportunity to forgive and move forward. It was a great moment for growth if he was willing to respond.
Today, consider what you are doing because you truly want to do it, and what you are doing because you feel you are supposed to do it or your family/friend/parent/boss is making you do it. If it is not something on your heart, if it is not something you give your willing consent, it is just going through the motions. It’s not being transparent or truthful. If you are not willing, talk to God about it. Ask Him why not. At the end of the day, you have the opportunity to give consent for God to move mightily in your life, just as you also have the opportunity to keep yourself self-centered. It’s always either Thy will be done or my will be done. You decide.
“But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent. I wanted you to help because you were willing, not because you were forced.” – Philemon 1:14 [NLT]