Philemon 13–14 (ESV) — 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.
In these verses, we find that Paul would really like to have Onesimus remain with him. He has been of great help to Paul and the ministry of the gospel. However, Paul does not want to do anything without Philemon giving his consent, so he is writing to make his will known and give Philemon the opportunity to do as he finds best.
One thing we may miss here is that Paul realizes that, whatever the issue is, there needs to be reconciliation between Philemon and Onesimus. This reconciliation was necessary if the ministry of the gospel was not going to be hindered in any way. Churches too must understand this. We often overlook or try to ignore glaring conflicts within our ministries while hoping we can just move forward without addressing them. This will likely cause problems down the road. We need to find reconciliation when there is conflict. The church cannot thrive without fostering unity.
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