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You are Partakers with me of Grace

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You are Partakers with me of Grace

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

“It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:7, ESV)

1.Paul knew that his feeling of confidence in the Philippians was right and appropriate because of his personal relationship with them and knowledge of their sincere faith in Christ.

2.The Greek word translated to feel (phronein) is used by Paul twenty-three times in this letter. This word means more than simply affection or an emotional reaction; it goes deeper, showing special concern based on others’ best interests. These Philippian believers held a special place in Paul’s heart (Cf. 1:8; 4:1).

3.The Greek structure of the sentence makes it possible to translate the last part “because you hold me in your heart” and could refer back to Paul’s thankfulness for their support. Either way, Paul and the Philippians had mutual affection: Paul in his constant prayers for them and concern for their faith; and the Philippians in their constant and generous support of Paul’s ministry.

4.It is possible to have others in our minds without really having them in our hearts. (Someone has observed that many people today would have to confess, “I have you on my nerves!”) Paul’s sincere love for his friends was something that could not be disguised or hidden.

5.Christian love is “the tie that binds.” Love is the evidence of salvation: "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers." (1 John 3:14, ESV).

6.Have you noticed how often Paul uses the phrase “you all” as he writes? There are at least nine instances in this letter. He does not want to leave anyone out!

7.Paul’s love was not something he merely talked about; it was something he practiced. He considered his difficult circumstances an opportunity for defending and confirming the Gospel, and this would help his brethren everywhere.

8.But how can Christians learn to practice this kind of love? “I get along better with my unsaved neighbors than I do my saved relatives!” a man confided to his pastor. “Maybe it takes a diamond to cut a diamond, but I’ve just about had it!”

9.Christian love is not something we work up; it is something that God does in us and through us. It was not Paul’s love channeled through Christ; it was Christ’s love channeled through Paul. “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." (Romans 5:5, ESV).

10.How can we tell that we are truly bound in love to other Christians? For one thing, we are concerned about them. The believers at Philippi were concerned about Paul and sent Epaphroditus to minister to him. Paul was also greatly concerned about his friends at Philippi, especially when Epaphroditus became ill and could not return right away (Phil. 2:25–28). "Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." (1 John 3:18, ESV)

11.Another evidence of Christian love is a willingness to forgive one another."Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8, ESV).

12.“Tell us some of the blunders your wife has made,” a radio quizmaster asked a contestant. “I can’t remember any,” the man replied. “Oh, surely you can remember something!” the announcer said. “No, I really can’t,” said the contestant. “I love my wife very much, and I just don’t remember things like that.”

13."Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, ESV)

14.Christians who practice love always experience joy; both come as a result of the presence of the same Holy Spirit. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness," (Galatians 5:22, ESV)

15.For you all share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. Notice again Paul’s emphasis on all of you. If there were any divisions in the church, Paul made it clear that all the believers shared in God’s grace (see 1:2).

16.As Paul received God’s grace in his struggles, so the Philippians would share in that grace as they faced persecution for their faith.

17.The Philippians also shared in the defense and confirmation of the gospel through their support of Paul’s ministry across the world and during his imprisonment. The words “defense” and “confirmation” could refer to Paul’s preaching ministry, as he continued to defend (maintain and uphold the truth of) and confirm (establish the truth and validity of) the gospel message.

18.We are to remember Paul’s example when hindrances, small or large, slow down our work for God. GracePointe, it is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

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