Philippians 1: 8-11
“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.”
Pray for our selfless love to abound.
This past week has significantly increased my prayer life. In a time where I am unable to control if the ones I love will get sick or lose their jobs, I have found myself begging God for the health and wellbeing of many in my life. This is not a bad thing, God calls us to “cast our anxieties on Him,” but I was struck when I read this passage that Paul’s prayer for those he loves is not for physical health or financial security, but that their “love may abound more and more.” Now I don’t think that this is because the Philipian church was in a debt-free building with each member healthy and the Dow trending upward. We can assume from 2 Corinthians 8:1-2 that the church members were actually greatly afflicted and extremely poor. So why not pray that God would bless their finances and take away their affliction?
Could it be that Paul knew that, yes, God can take away our afflictions and provide for our every need, but that self-sacrificing love, agapē, is a far greater gift than health, comfort, and security? Paul wasn’t the only person to pray for believers to love; Jesus did too. Jesus did not pray that we would never suffer, he prayed, “that the love with which you (the Father) have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26). Agape, the word used in both of these passages for love is not just a feeling, it is a selfless action that is eternal (1 Cor 13:4-13) and has the power to show people who our Savior is (John 13:35). And when our lives are finished here on this broken earth, the only thing that will matter is if we have received the love of Christ through His sacrifice for us and if we have shown and shared that love with others.
So how do we self-sacrificially love? Do we give and give to the point of burnout and the detriment of those closest to us? I don’t think that is what God wants for us. He calls us to love with “knowledge and all discernment” to know the best way to love: by being filled with the Spirit that is given “through Jesus Christ.” May my prayer for myself and others be that we would draw near to Christ, listen to the Holy Spirit and love those around us with a love that looks like Jesus.
God, there are so many things I long for in this time: health, safety, security, but may I not forget that You call me to something so much higher than earthly comfort, you call me to participate in the eternal act of loving You and those around me with the love of Christ. Would you help open my eyes today to ways You are growing my love to abound more and more.
In this crazy time of socially distancing, what are some ways that you can selflessly love those around you?