Jesus taught us that the greatest commandment is to love God with all that we are. He said that the second greatest commandment was to love our neighbor as ourselves. As we continue our study in Philippians, Paul moves into this important topic of love.
Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. (8) For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. Php 1:7-8
In this sermon we learn some important truths about love as we observe Paul’s love for the Philippian church, and this churches’ love for Paul.
1. Paul’s Love for the Philippians.
You can tell the love that Paul had for the Philippians in 2 statements found in verses 7 and 8. The first statement is found in verse 7.
“…I have you in my heart.”
The second statement if found in verse 8.
“…I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.”
The word for “bowels” represents all the internal, essential organs, and therefore the innermost part of our being. Notice that he calls on God as his witness, expressing His authentic emotion.
“…For God is my record”.
Several scriptures help us understand authentic love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
“But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.” 1 Thessalonians 4:9
Loving our brothers and sisters in Christ is the obvious reality for the child of God. God’s desire for us is to love one another.
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (11) Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” 1 John 4:10-11
God’s love for us demonstrated by the sacrificial death of Christ should motivate us to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is a common circumstance to have a more difficult time loving some people than it is others. But do not forget, Christ loved you and me in our unlovable condition.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
You see, love is not just an emotion. Love is a demonstration. It is not enough just to say that we love others. God calls us to demonstrate our love for others.
But, how do we love the unlovable in our lives? Check out Romans 5:5.
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Romans 5:5
The Holy Spirit enables us to love the unlovely the way that Christ loves us.
Follow the logic of the theology of the New Testament.
- The Bible teaches us that God is love.
- The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit is God.
- The Holy Spirit that wrote the Word lives in us.
- As believers the Holy Spirit lives inside of us.
- When we allow the Holy Spirit to control us, the Holy Spirit will lead us to love the hard to love around us.
A vertical love received from Christ should be extended horizontally to those around us.
2. The Love of the Philippians for Paul.
Not only did Paul have a love for the Philippian believers, these believers had a love that they demonstrated for him. Paul addresses this in verse 7 where he said,
“…inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.”
It is as if Paul is saying, “Whether I’m in prison or whether I’m preaching or defending the Gospel, you have always loved me, encouraged me, and supported me.”
We also see their love for Paul in the sacrificial demonstration by Epaphroditus. Epaphroditus went on an 800-mile, 14-week round trip with time in the middle where he was sick unto death. The Philippians’ love for Paul was an authentic demonstrated love. Authentic love is always demonstrated and not just spoken. Authentic love is not only demonstrated, but it is also the distinguishing mark of the disciple of Jesus Christ.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35
Authentic love leads to a desire to be with those that we love. Notice what Paul said in verse 8.
For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. Php 1:8
When people love each other, they want to be with each other. God has called those who know Christ as Savior to be a part of the local assembly, the church. When we love the way that God has called us to love, we will have joy for the journey.
Have you experienced the love of God? He loves you and gave His Son to die for you. You can be saved from your sin and spend eternity with God and God’s people. Do you know Christ as your Savior? If you don’t, please check out this page on our website that helps you know Christ as your Savior.