Reading: Appeal to mutual benefits

STEP TWO: Influence - Use it!

Philemon 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.

3. Appeal to mutual benefits

"I get something; you get something.”

"I scratch your back; you scratch mine.”

"What is good for the goose is good for the gander.”

"Do unto others as you would have others do to you.”

"Give and take.”



There are a lot of ways to say it. And it sounds like a fair deal. But how is this love?

Love is not always 50/50.

At the beginning of Paul's letter to Philemon, he calls Philemon "beloved” or in some translations "friend.” The actual Greek word that Paul uses is "agape” which is often translated as "love.”

Agape love is unconditional love. When my wife and I got married, we pledged unconditional love to each other. "I will love you no matter what I get in return.” Agape seems like the best kind of love.

But there is another kind of love that is found in the Bible. The Greek word is "eros.”

Sounds kind of selfish doesn't it?

This love is a love that says, "I love something because it does something for me.”

"I love pizza because pizza satisfies my hunger and makes me happy.” Eros, unlike agape, is love with conditions.

Most friendships are built on eros. "You are my friend because I enjoy being with you. I get pleasure from you. And more than likely, you call me friend because you get something from me.”

Eros friendship is a give and take relationship. It is a mutual benefit kind of thing. For example, you go out to dinner with your friendand he offers to buy lunch. Great. Next time you will pick up the check. This picking-up-the-check thing goes back and forth without either of you keeping track, and at the end of the year, you both instinctively know that it is close to a wash. If, on the other hand one person starts paying more than the other without there being a reason for it, the relationship slips from friend and friend to sponsor and dependent.

Friendships, at least in the beginning, are built on shared interest. I like to golf, and you like golf. We like to golf together. Or we like classic cars, or art, or travel, or work, or philosophy, or photography, or kids, or whatever else. You get the picture.

Shared interest is different than being selfish. How isthis so?

Eros friendships are somewhat selfish. But they have to be mutually selfish. Both partners are not only getting what they want from the other, but each is trying to give to the other what the other wants. This takes a lot of work.

For example, if your friend has a business where he sells things and you want $10 off the regular price on something he sells, you are, in effect, asking your friend to give you $10. If he were to treat you the same, he would be the one coming to you and asking if you don't mind, because you are his friend, paying $10 more than the regular price. You would then in effect be giving him $10.

The point is it goes both ways. It is a mutual thing. Sometimes I am the one sacrificing and sometimes you are the one sacrificing. And it averages out.

But someone might ask, "What about agape love, the unconditional love then? How does this love fit in?”

I met my wife in college. I was attracted to her. And she, believe it or not, slowly, over time, became attracted to me. We loved being together. We enjoyed sharing some of the same interests. We got married, in large part, because we each had much to gain from this new partnership. We both benefited. But what began as eros love became agape love when we made our wedding vows. Mutual or conditional love became unconditional love.

Where in your life has eros love become agape love? Why is it hard to not to be selfish or self-absorbed when it comes to what we want from other people?

The point is eros love has a place in relationships, and Paul now appeals to it in his relationship with Philemon.

Onesimus means "useful.” Paul in effect is saying to Philemon that Onesimus, the useful one, became useless to Philemon when he ran away. But now that Onesimus is a Christian, he has become useful again - to Paul, and perhaps, even more useful to Philemon.

You want your spouse, your kids, a friend, or someone at work to do something for you. Instead of badgering, guilting, and manipulating them into doing what you want, spend some time figuring out what those around you want.

What does your wife want from you? What would your boss get excited about if you were to do it?

How can you be a positive force in the wants and needs of those around you? And how might these things help you get what you want?

Sometimes our wants can line up. "We both get what we want.”

Sometimes it just takes a little tweaking. "If we change this or that, we both can get what we want.”

Sometimes we will have to compromise. "Let's meet in the middle.” Neither of us gets exactly what we want, but it's close enough.

Sometimes it will be an exchange. "You do this for me, and I will do that for you.”

Some of you are saying to yourselves that you have tried this with the people close to you and it just doesn't work.

Why doesn't this always work?

Because we often sabotage the process. How? By not going for the mutual benefit. We pretend that we are interested in a mutual benefit, but we are just doing whatever it takes to get what we want.

Why is it hard to not to be selfish or self-absorbed when it comes to what we want from other people?

Appealing to a mutual benefit is not just some technique that one can employ to get the other person to give you what you want. You must truly care about the other person's benefit.


What does the name "Onesimus” mean?

The primary concern of Philemon was the loss of a slave who was useful but, after he escaped, became useless. Under Paul's influence, however, he became useful again both to Philemon and to Paul. Why is it easier to get "buy-in” from someone you are trying to influence when you show them what they might gain in the bargain?

How are friendships built on mutual benefits?

What happens to a friendship when one person does most of the benefiting and the other does most of the giving?

Exodus 20:12 "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

According to Exodus 20, what are parents supposed to get? What do sons and daughters get?

How do most of God's laws for us do something for God and something for us?

Can you think of a situation where you wanted something from someone but your approach to getting it was all wrong?

How might you rethink this situation in terms of mutual benefits?

Last modified: Monday, August 13, 2018, 9:08 AM