For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.Philippians 1:8(NASB)
The gospel of the grace of God, where Christ was sent from heaven to become our Kinsman-Redeemer (and the sin-substitute for mankind), is the adhesive that binds believers together in the perfect bond of unity, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul developed a Christ-like attitude of prayer, praise, and intercessions for all whose lives had been so radically impacted and eternally changed by the good news of the glorious gospel of grace.
He trusted God to complete the good work which was started in each of their lives the moment they trusted Christ Jesus for salvation, and it was this deep love and intense yearning towards all that are united together in Christ, that caused Paul to cry out to them all, "God is my witness, of how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus."
The apostle Paul had discovered how to love his brothers and sisters in Philippi in the same way that Christ loves us and gave Himself for us. And Paul's overflowing love, great affection, and constant yearning for all his brothers and sisters in Christ, is demonstrated in his affectionate and encouraging greeting to them all. The life of Paul and the prayers that he prayed give witness to his own redeemed position in Christ. This same heart of love is evident in the apostle John who also reminds us: "We know that we have passed from death to life because of our love for the brethren."
As a Roman citizen, Paul was in a position to defend and advance the position of Christianity at his forthcoming trial in Rome, knowing that the impact of his court-case would have repercussions throughout Christendom. It was out of love for the Lord Jesus Christ (and his affection for them all) that Paul embraced his imprisonment with joy, and viewed it as a demonstration of his love for them all.
The love of Christ that was demonstrated in the life of Paul is not a love that can be fired up through the emotions, achieved through training, or developed by strictly following man-made rules. Christlike affection is not a love that we work up for ourselves. It is the love of Christ Himself being poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit being manifested in our lives so that the love of Christ in our hearts, may stream out from us to others with whom we come in contact.
When we abide in Christ and willingly submit to the good work that the Holy Spirit started in our life at salvation, then the love of Christ grows in our heart as spiritual fruit and we are enabled by Him to love one another as He loves us. When the love of Christ is manifest in our heart, we discover a love for others that is not of ourselves and a willingness to forgive and forget, which can only be rooted in Christ's love for us. When the love of Jesus is genuinely filling our hearts, we discover a joy in the Lord that is inexpressible and a peace in our heart that passes human understanding.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I may so grow in grace and in a knowledge of my Saviour, Jesus Christ, that His supernatural love may flow into my heart so that, in the power of the Holy Spirit, I too may love others as Christ loved me and be able to say with Paul: "As God is my witness, I yearn for my brothers and sisters in Christ with all the affection of Christ Jesus." In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.
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