Prayer- As we approach your Word today, give us a sense of eager anticipation about what you will teach us- teaching not just our heads, but our hearts as well, because after all, it IS “all about the love.”
Scripture– 7 It 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. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
How do you get somebody into your heart? Is it based on the cuteness factor, like kittens and puppies? Is because they did something nice for you? In the case of the folks in Philippi, was it because they were “partners in the gospel” with Paul, whatever that means? He says it is right for him to feel this way about ALL of them, since he has them in his heart. But what is that based on? He says, regardless of whatever HE is doing, or whatever is happening TO him, they all share in God’s grace with him.
Does that mean they share in COMMUNICATING God’s grace? Sure, let’s start there. Could it mean that like him, the “worst of sinners” (I Tim. 1:16), they are RECIPIENTS of God’s grace? Seems to fit, doesn’t it? God has decided to pour “grace upon grace” down upon His children. So which is it? Do we have to decide which way to read the passage for it to still fit? (How might that shape some of our approaches to Bible study and interpretation?) The implication here is that Paul has these folks in his heart because whatever he means, they share in God’s grace with him. It’s not based on how good THEY are, or how magnanimous Paul is. It’s based on mutually sharing (koinonia) in God’s grace.
So, that being true- 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
In this time of Covid 19, “longing with affection” is something I think we can understand better than we could a few months ago. Zoom is good, but in-person is better. All Paul could do was dictate a letter, and hope the messenger would administer hugs on his behalf.
Prayer– Today, for THIS day, Heavenly Father, help me to have a big, gracious heart like you do, like Paul had, as I partner in your grace with your people.