But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary.
New Living Translation
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.
Contemporary English Version
But I won’t do anything unless you agree to it first. I want your act of kindness to come from your heart, and not be something you feel forced to do.
Apostle Paul writes this short letter to Philemon. Paul is restoring Onesimus a runaway slave back to Philemon his master. Paul is pleading with Philemon to forgive Onesimus and accept him back. Then in our text today Paul tells Philemon that he wanted to actually retain Onesimus so that he can serve him and the ministry. Then Paul tells Philemon that it would have seemed that Paul is coercing him to do that favor.
In our text today, Paul tells Philemon and all of us that a favor given voluntarily is better than a favor given after coercion. Paul tells Philemon that he prefers if he gave him Onesimus as a voluntary favor. Paul recognizes that he has an upper hand over Philemon and he may easily coerce him. Paul was a father-like figure to Philemon. Paul was a highly respected spiritual leader to Philemon. Paul was conscious that he could knowingly or unknowingly force Philemon to do something and he carefully avoided that. Voluntary favor is better than forced favor.
As we work with people and interact with them, we must be careful not coerce anyone to do us a favour. If you have an advantage over someone be careful since your request may be a command and you may receive a favour done grudgingly. Voluntary favour is better than forced favour.
2 Corinthians 9:7
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
New Living Translation
You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
God loves tithes and offerings that are given cheerfully and not under compulsion. If tithe and offerings are given grudgingly, God rejects them and does not bless the giver. If God rejects favours done under compulsion, we too should reject them. Do not force people under you to do you favours. Let the favours be done from a willing heart. The favour done grudgingly is a curse. Voluntary favour is better than forced favour.
When a favour is done to you grudgingly it is like you have stolen from the giver. After you receive a favour that was done unwillingly, the giver goes away crying and mourning what they did or gave. That crying and mourning reach God and your favour ceases to be a blessing, it becomes a curse. Therefore be very careful lest a favour is given grudgingly and it brings you curses. Voluntary favour is better than forced favour.
Paul was sensitive to this and he sent Onesimus to Philemon. He suggests that if he had retained Onesimus and made a request to Philemon to let him have Onesimus, Philemon would have obviously accepted, but Paul wouldn’t be sure if it is willingly or grudgingly. Therefore to remove all doubt, he sent Onesimus back to Philemon and accompanied him with a letter making the request. Paul wanted to be sure that if Onesimus comes to work with him, Philemon would release him without coercion. Voluntary favor is better than forced favor.
Be careful what you ask from those whom you have an advantage over. They will easily do you a favour, but is it willingly or forced by the situation of your relationship? If you are a Boss, workers under you would want to please you. They will work overtime and agree with everything you say, but grudgingly, therefore be careful. If you are affluent and or influential people would do you favours in the hope that you will return the favour. Those are things done grudgingly. If someone admires you and wants a relationship with you or them to hope for sexual relations, they would do you favours in the hope of a returned favour. Such favour is not done willingly. The admiration is coercing them. Voluntary favour is better than forced favour.
Ask your self, are the people doing you favours acting out of fear? Are they acting out of a hope for something? Is it genuine? When they surrender a seat to you when there is a shortage of seats, is it fear, hope for something or willingly done out of love? When they let you jump the line, it may not be willingly. It is wise to avoid the favour than risk a favour that will turn out to be a curse. The day the people don’t get what they hoped for from you, all the expectations will ferment into hate for you and at that point, the favour given in the past grudgingly becomes a curse. It is wise like Paul, to avoid such situations. Voluntary favour is better than forced favour.
We may not be able to read human hearts, but we can act wisely. We can avoid situations where those who fear us, admire us, or respect us are forced to do something for us. We can come early and take a seat if they can be a shortage of seats so that no one has to surrender their seat to us. We can stand in line until it is our turn to be served. We can find other ways instead of making a request that will be treated as a command. Voluntary favor is better than forced favor.
Dear God, grant us wisdom in how we deal with people. Save us from demanding and getting favors done grudgingly. Help us to wisely deal with people whom we have an advantage over. Also help us to be cheerful givers of service and offerings to you and others, in Jesus’ name, Amen!