Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus — that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 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. Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever—no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.
So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.
- Philemon 1:8-21
“Nice words to hear, huh? They have flowed into my ears from any number of places. …
“Treats are neat. Spontaneous. Unexpected. Pleasant moments that communicate: ‘You are special … loved, appreciated, affirmed, deserving …”
- Charles R. Swindoll, The Finishing Touch
Rev. Swindoll gets around to tying the idea of “treat” into something spiritual that we treat ourselves to, like a conference or a retreat.
It is hard for my wife and I to be comfortable around friends who always pick up the tab. For a couple of times, it is a nice treat, then it seems to be charity. We want to be equals, friends, with those whom we go out to dine. We do not want to feel like the charity case, because they know we are hurting financially. We are not hurting that bad, as long as we watch what we are doing.
So, this last time, actually the time before that, my wife announced that she is Dutch, and she insists on Dutch Treat. They knew she was Dutch, so everyone laughed, but the ground rules were set. My wife and I can afford a meal out with friends, if we “go Dutch.” Paying for a table of hungry adults that ask for the extra ala carte items and double desserts? We could do it, but we would be skimping on our meals for a month to make up for it. When someone else pays, we usually look for the least expensive items on the menu, no extras, and no dessert. It is rarely that way when we are treating, especially with family.
The concept of “Dutch Treat” was coined by the British in the 17th century. The Dutch and British fought over trade routes, and since the British felt that the Dutch were a bit too tight with their paying of their fare share, the term was used in a derogatory fashion. “Dutch Treat” has come to mean that everyone pays their own way. Today, a romantic date on a Dutch Treat is more than a little cheap, not cool at all, but a few friends, not in a romantic relationship, could easily “go Dutch.” The first official use of “Dutch Treat” in the US was at a Baltimore Bar, meaning that everyone was responsible for their own bar tab, with the thought that might curtail overdrinking.
In the Scripture above, the Apostle Paul is asking Philemon to accept his former slave back as a fellow believer and friend, not as a slave. It is a large treat indeed.
But each of us should find some means of getting away and spending time with God, giving ourselves a spiritual treat. It would be great with other believers at a retreat, but virtual retreats are probably being formed. There are many on-line Bible studies. They are not the same as awaking in a mountain cabin to the sound of birds chirping and not having a telephone in the cabin, thus no one ringing in, until someone knocks on the cabin door, a visitor from the next cabin, ready to share what they learned that day in their Bible reading.
Now that is a treat.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.