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“[B]ut I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord” (Philemon 1:14).

For love to be love, there must be freedom.  Paul is asking Philemon if he can do what is being requested for love’s sake.  Note that feelings have nothing to do with this.  As we deal with brothers and sisters, we should seek their assent and not just assume it, as many do.  You see, our goodness must not be by compulsion, for then it is not goodness, but only the grudging response of an unwilling heart.

Lord, first, help me to see this and then help me to do these things.  It is hard because I often do not have the right heart.  I often am driven by compulsion and not by a willing spirit.  Lead me away from selfish ambition, Lord, to the place where I willingly love my neighbor and seek always to do the right thing.  Gracious Lord, help me not just come to the place of consent, but to willingly become a gracious giver transformed by Your love.

Lord Jesus, You died on the cross for us all willingly.  Though we do not know (nor do we yet) all that You have done, we do know that You have done this willingly so that we might be with You forever.  Guide me, dear Lord, that I would forever hold fast to Your promises, letting nothing get in the way.  Let me do away with all selfishness motives and be guided by the example of Your true goodness.  Amen.

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