It 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. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:7-11 ESV)
Wow. It really sounds like the Apostle Paul is getting a little mushy here! He can’t help but be filled with warm feelings for this church who has stood beside him through some tough things. They continue to love and encourage him even though he’s been put in prison, beaten, and ridiculed for the sake of the gospel. They aren’t ashamed to be identified with him.
But it’s not just Paul’s affection that is flowing in this passage. Paul is saying that he loves them like Jesus loves them! In other words, he can’t help but be crazy about this church because Jesus is crazy about this church! Sometimes as a believer it helps to be reminded that God loves us with a “never stopping, never giving up, always and forever kind of love.” Because Paul loves this church like Jesus loves the church, he prays for them.
How do you pray for the people you love? Do you love the church like Jesus loves his church?
Sometimes we pray for the people we love in a kind of selfish way. “Thank you for my mom and dad.” or “help my dad want to give me that big present I want for Christmas.” Or when someone is sick we pray, “help mom to get to feeling better.” I suppose that those kind of prayers are good to an extent because we are told to “cast all our cares upon Him” (1 Peter 5:7). But these selfish prayers are different than how Paul prays for the church at Philippi.
Paul prays for the church to grow more in love. Sometimes we can think of love as an emotion, but love is more than an emotion. Love requires knowledge and action. I can say that I love my wife but then I have to know her and act accordingly. If I know that she doesn’t like to do the dishes then an act of love might be for me to do something like do the dishes. With knowledge comes the ability to act in a way that demonstrates my love. This is what Paul prays for the church at Philippi, not that they would be filled with an emotion, but that they would know God! Then their knowledge of God would drive their actions and emotions. That they would look more like Jesus because of how closely they walk with him. That’s how Paul prays for the people he loves. That’s a gospel payer.
Take time to pray for the people you love today. Pray for them according to the gospel that they would grow in their knowledge of God.
Did you enjoy this post? Did you consider it helpful? Subscribe by e-mail on the top right of this page and get fresh articles like this one and more sent straight to your e-mail inbox. Don’t for get to share on Facebook or Twitter.