Read Philippians 1:7-8 (ESV)
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.
How have you experienced the love of your brothers and sisters in Christ?
One thing is for sure, Paul does not make his feelings about his brothers and sisters in Christ a secret. On the contrary, he frequently expresses a deep affection for them. Paul said it was “right for him to feel this way” about the Philippians. Why did he feel such a deep connection with them?
Paul and the Philippians were deeply bonded because of their shared faith in Jesus Christ. Also, the Philippian church was the only early church that provided Paul with financial support. But that bond went much deeper for Paul and the Philippians because they shared meaningful life experiences together and had a common purpose.
In Acts 16, we read of how Paul and Silas were beaten, humiliated, and placed in the stocks in Philippi. Their crime? They commanded an evil spirit to leave a slave girl and she was freed from her demon. She was no longer useful to her owners who had been profiting off of her, so they falsely accused Paul and Silas of causing chaos. The magistrates did not uphold Roman justice but instead allowed Paul and Silas to be illegally punished.
But Paul’s time in Philippi wasn’t all bad. It was because of their illegal imprisonment that their jailer also put his faith in Jesus Christ. God miraculously opened the prison doors, and this led to the conversion of the jailer! It was also in Philippi that Lydia and her household were baptized. Lydia then practiced great hospitality in offering her home to Paul and the brethren for their use during their time there.
All of these shared experiences knit Paul and the early Philippian church tightly together. They had been through a lot together and had seen the hand of God in it all. So when Paul thought of his brothers and sisters in Christ in Philippi, he remembered them fondly and with great affection. He was extremely grateful for them and prayed for them regularly with great joy.
Friends, there is just something about sharing life with other believers. Paul experienced both joyful and painful times with the Philippians but they were loyal and faithful in their partnership with him through it all. As believers in Jesus Christ, we share a common identity and mission with other believers that should unite us in powerful ways. As we do life and ministry together, that bond should only deepen until we all can say as Paul did that we “yearn for each other with the affection of Christ Jesus.” After all, we are family.
Lord, thank You for my brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank You for the gift of fellowship and friendship that I can find in them. Help me to be a faithful friend to my brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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