“It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may 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.”
Wouldn’t you like to get a letter like this? We often think of Paul as standing in the city square preaching the Good news, but do we think of him as a person who loved the people who heard his message?
Paul’s experiences with imprisonment taught him many things, but I think the most important was that earthly chains meant nothing compared to the love of Christ. As he experienced that love he was able to pass it on to others. Isn’t this what the gospel is all about?
Who do you have in your heart? Is it someone who came to Christ through you? Is it someone you hope will call out to be saved? It doesn’t matter what your situation is, you can still have a great impact on those in your circle of influence. You can still be salt and light in the world.
Paul shares that he longs for the Philippian believers, wants to be with them, share more of God’s grace with them. His life was that of a traveling preacher. He must have had some amazing stories to tell (some of which we can read in God’s word). But do we think of the stories of tough days and lonely nights spent in jail for Christ? Do we think about how exhausted he must have been, or how his heart hurt when those he cared about didn’t believe?
Maybe there is someone you long to see. They might have moved away or maybe you did. In our day we can send a text or make a call, but for Paul there were only letters. Those letters took a lot of time to get where they were going. As he waited in jail, Paul could only hope that his friends were standing firm in Christ. He could only wait for a return letter from them.
During that time of waiting, Paul prayed. Prayer is something we all can do, and Paul gives us an example of what to pray.
We can pray for Spiritual growth, in love, knowledge and insight. Love must abound in us, growing deeper each day. Pray that your friends grow in love and forgiveness.
We can pray for the ability to discern what is best, the best path, the best words, the best timing. Pray that those who live for Christ will always be able to discern these things.
We can pray that our friends will be continually filled with the fruit of righteousness, shining forth the truth and the light of Christ for the world to see.
Who will you pray these things for today?