Paul’s love for these believers flows from being fellow partakers of God’s grace
7 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. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
I’ve never been in a prison for any other reason than a tour. In fact, I have no idea what it is like to be confined to a cell with little to no freedom as I know it to be on the ‘outside’. But, I do know this: it’s not a place I want to be. Knowing the societal status of someone in prison in the first century, along with the quality of life being vastly different from today’s standards, prison was most certainly not a place of ‘joy’ and ‘happiness,’
And yet, as we read this passage out of Philippians, we see Paul speaking out of joy. We see Paul is trying to convince God’s community in Philippi his feelings for them are justified and quite genuine. He really isn’t making this stuff up! His memory of them brings him joy in a seemingly joy-less circumstance, and he yearns for them with a love similar to Christ’s affection for us. Being in his cell, under guard, with food provision being less than optimal, his thoughts and cares are on his fellow believers in Philippi.
Paul’s love for these believers flows from being fellow partakers of God’s grace. When a community comes together in their relationship with God and the grace God alone can give, this relationship confirms the Gospel. It’s a truly wonderful thing to be in communion with a body of believers, partaking in life together, but it’s especially amazing to have wonderful communion together with the Triune God! We’ve all had times where we’ve felt in communion with God. Read John 15:12-15, and consider a time when you experienced this communion with God. Lift up praise to God for this experience.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
No longer do I call you servants,
for the servant does not know what his master is doing;
but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard
from my Father I have made known to you.
By Rich Obrecht