not by compulsion

This is a favorite passage from the book of Philemon. In this letter, Paul writes on behalf of Onesimus, a slave he had befriended. He appeals to the master (apparently also a Christian) to accept Onesimus as a friend and brother, no longer as a slave. But Paul does send Onesimus back to his master. Why? Paul explains:

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; but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own free will. (Philemon 13-14)
I really like that. The insistance that "your goodness not be by compulsion but of your own free will."

I think this is also the reason Jesus taught, "Do not resist one who is evil." (Mt 5.39) Appeal to them, but do not force them. That their goodness not be by compulsion but of their own free will.

I'm thinking of mentioning this tonight if we discuss house rules again. I imagine it will also be very relevant at the Catholic Worker house.