3I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. —Philippians 1:3-8
Can we love like Jesus did? Paul sounds like it was his heart’s desire to love the Philippian Christians as Jesus did. Look at verses 7-8. He makes some very strong statements here. First, he says it’s right for him to feel that way. Why? “Because I hold you in my heart, for you are partakers with me in
grace . . .” That grace opened Paul’s heart to love as Jesus did.
If you look at Paul’s life at the time he wrote this letter, he would have many excuses for not loving these people. He was in a Roman jail, but Paul does not make excuses, nor is he ashamed of how he loves these Christians. They are dear to him. The distance did not stop his affection, nor did the time away stop his love for them. Why?
They were partners in the Gospel. There is something to be said about working together for the cause of the Gospel of Christ. It bonds our hearts and minds together. Paul makes no apology for his affection to this church. The financial resources were scarce when Paul first visited Philippi. Rather than separating these young Christians, it knit them together. Both Paul and the Philippian Christians did what they could for the advancement of the Gospel.
It was those hard times suffered together that made the good times more meaningful. People grow closer in times of adversity. When all is going well, it seems everybody is your friend, but when things are at the very worst, it’s only your true friends who stay and help. Paul had experienced closeness in suffering and working with these dear people.
What can we take away from what Paul is saying above? The most important lesson is we can love like Jesus did. We can let the hard times we are facing with other Christians become the best times of our lives. They are the best times because we find out what Christian fellowship is.
That’s what Paul is saying here. He loved the Philippian Christians like Jesus loved His disciples. And we can too.
Prayer – Father, thank You for Your plan in having Your people live life in community. When Your people live and love as Paul describes in Philippians, Your glory is revealed. However, so many times I don’t love like Jesus did. Forgive me for that, Father and help me learn to forgive and love as a way to show Your glory in this world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.