The last time we consider the element that is essential to Christian Fellowship is “Having Others in Our Minds.” Now I would like to move to the next essential as Paul described.
He said in Philippians 1:7-8 – “I Have You In My Heart.” This takes us a little deeper into the heart of the matter. It is possible to have people in our minds without really having them in our hearts. Some could and should confess, “I have you on my nerves.” Paul demonstrated sincere Christian Love.
What is Christian Love? That is the tie that binds like no other tie. Love is evidence of salvation (1 John 3:14). Love is the spiritual lubrication that keeps the machinery of life running smoothly.
Love and compassion are not simply mercy and sympathy. They are not our identification with or even understanding and empathy. One can do all those to the letter and not really love. Compassion is only born in love!
How did Paul show his love? He was suffering on their behalf. His bonds were proof of his love (Ephesians 3:1) – “The prisoner of Jesus Christ for you gentiles.” It was through Paul’s trials that Christianity was receiving a fair hearing before high authorities in Rome. Paul’s love was not something he simply talked about it was something he practiced. He considered his difficulties as opportunities for defending and confirming the gospel message. That is something each of us should embrace. Not looking for trouble, but out of trials manifest the heart of God.
Another Question is – “How Can Christians Learn to Practice That Kind of Love?” I heard a man say, “I get along better with my unsaved neighbor than I do with my saved relatives. Maybe it takes a diamond to cut a diamond, but I have just about had it.” Hear me please, Christian Love is not something we work up, it is something that God does through us. It is in us and flows out of us. If it is there, it will shine forth!
This was not Paul’s love being channeled through Jesus, but Jesus’ love being channeled through Paul. (Romans 5:15 NIV) – “God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” The Key and it is an important Key is when we permit or cooperate with God to perform His “Good Work” in us, then we grow in our love for others!
Another Question is – “How Can They Know That We Are Truly Bound in Love to One Another?” One is our concern for other believers and other people. The believers at Philippi were so concerned about Paul that they sent Epaphroditus to check on him and Paul’s concern for them was reciprocal. (Philippians 2:25-28).
I John 3:18 – “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”
Another way, people know our love is we are willing to forgive one another. In 1 Peter 3:18 we read, “And above all things have fervent charity (love) among yourselves: for charity (love) shall cover a multitude of sins.”
Let me offer this illustration: A radio quizmaster asked a contestant to tell some of his wife’s blunders. The man replied, “I cannot remember any.” The quizmaster chided him saying, “Oh, surely you can remember something!” The man said, “No, I really cannot. I love my wife, very much, and I just do not remember things like that.” The world and too much of the church cannot grasp that concept. Remember 1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV – “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”
Christians who practice love always experience Joy! Love and Joy come as a result of the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. Galatians 5:22 teaches, “The fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy…”
I must pause again before taking up the third element Paul considered essential in True Christian Fellowship. We will address it in the next devotional.
God bless you as you walk with Him today!