Bible Reading: Philippians 1:1-11; Psalm 1
Philippians is one of Paul’s prison letters, and it is a very popular, highly quoted letter among believers. What makes this letter so stirring is the place Paul is in when he writes it. He is in prison, and there is a chance that he will be executed. At the time, none of the believers know if they will ever see Paul again, and Paul has no assurance of who he will see again. Amid this tense and anxious time, Paul pens a letter to the believers in Philippi. His opening statements are filled with a love and compassion that is rarely seen nowadays. This love and passion is seen in the hopes and prayers he has for the believers in Philippi.
Paul first thanks God for them, because they have been wonderful partners in ministry. The Philippians, after believing the Gospel, committed to following and serving Jesus. They blessed Paul in numerous ways that we find out later in the letter. Paul is certain of something about these Philippians, and that Is God’s transforming hand on them. In 1:6, he writes, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Paul has personally seen and heard of their growth in Christ, and Paul knows that God will continue to transform them until He has finished His perfecting work. Paul knows that the Philippians are also struggling with persecution for their faith, so he encourages them that God is working in them to do His will.
Finally, to close out the opening portion of the letter, Paul tells them a specific prayer he has for them. Paul prays for their love to grow more and more, and for them to grow in both knowledge and discernment. Paul prays these things so that the Philippians will not be led astray by the things of this world, and so they will only approve of what is good and honoring to God. In doing this, these believers would remain, “pure and blameless for the day of Christ,” and they would be welcomed by God into His kingdom.
Application: Have you ever loved someone so deeply that you have prayed these things over them? Have you ever prayed for someone to have a love for God and people that would continue to grow? Or for them to grow in knowledge and discernment of the things of God? Paul has a genuine affection for these people that should be strangers to him, but God has knitted their hearts together. This is what God does! He unifies people who would never have had any dealing with each other. God takes people from all over the globe, and He makes them into one people, His Church.
I want to encourage you to begin viewing other believers this way. To open up your heart to genuinely love and desire things for them. Pray for growth in love, knowledge and discernment, and for God to continue to work and perfect His people. When we begin to have this kind of genuine affection for the people in our church, then we will begin acting like the Church.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, teach us how to love as You love. Help us to have genuine hearts and be open to uniting with others. We have been taught to hold back from such genuine openness, so we ask for You to teach us Your ways. May we become the holy people of God and begin acting like Your Church. We thank You for the work You have begun, and we praise You that You are faithful to complete it. We love You, Father. Amen.