Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Honey, Vinegar & Philemon

This Sunday in worship, we will read the majority of the Letter of Paul to Philemon, only omitting the last 4 verses of the letter. Philemon is one of the shortest books in the New Testament. Yet, despite its brevity, the Letter to Philemon displays the Apostle Paul’s mastery at persuasion, all cloaked in the authentic garb of love.

In the letter, Onesimus is a slave, who has obviously run away from his master, Philemon. Onesimus, the runaway slave, is now with Paul, who is writing from prison. Paul appeals to Philemon, on the basis of love, to take back his runaway slave and to welcome his slave home as “a beloved brother.”

A wise mentor once repeated the adage to me: “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.“ The language and rhetoric that Paul uses in this Letter to Philemon are extraordinary, as he persuades Philemon with honey, rather than with vinegar.

As we live our Monday through Friday lives, listen to yourself. Are you complaining and negative and demeaning to others, using vinegar to try to catch flies? Or do you respect others and have a positive attitude and love people with authenticity, using honey, rather than vinegar?

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