1Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:
2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 7It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
“In My Heart”
We’re going to take a quick jaunt through the book of Philippians! From beginning to end, the book of Philippians is filled with incredible encouragements and insights, especially addressing the idea of unity within the church body. Over and over, we will come across verses that have shaped the life of the church for centuries, as well as many of our own individual lives. And these wonderful insights are the result of love.
What I mean is this – Philippians stands in contrast to other epistles like 1 Corinthians, which because of some of the terrible perversions the Corinthian church had taken with the gospel, is filled with warnings and rebukes, and even sarcasm. The book of Philippians is instead filled with genuine warmth, as evidenced by this opening greeting and prayer – this passage is just so personal, isn’t it? Paul really appreciates and loves this church, and this affection will eventually manifest itself into a powerfully encouraging and masterful epistle. It is Paul’s love for the Philippian church that causes him to lavish encouragements and insights upon them.
Love just has this way of bringing the best out of us.
The question is, “Do you love anyone like this?” Is there someone whom you pray for with joy? Someone whom you have in your heart? Someone you long for with the affection of Christ? Someone whom it is so easy to serve and encourage, as it was for Paul and the Philippians? It is important to be able to identify such people in our lives, because they have a way of bringing the best out of us. And also, to realize that the affection that we have for this person or people isn’t ours, but was given to us by God.
1. When you read how Paul feels about the Philippian church, is there any person or group who comes to mind in your life?
2. Why do you feel this way about this person or group?
3. What have you done for this person or people that you usually don’t find yourself doing?
4. Why do you think God has given you such a great heart and affection for this person or people?