June 02, 2018

Loving the Other

Philippians 1:7-8

God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

—  Philippians 1:8

The Philippians had heard that Paul was in prison. Paul wrote several of his letters from a jail cell, chains clanking from his wrists as he composed his epistles. But that did not stop up his love. “You are in my heart,” Paul says, and he adds, in ­effect, “It doesn’t matter whether I am in jail or where I am; my love for you is expressed in every beating of my heart. I am not so focused on my own problems that I can no longer think of you all.” It seems that the only thing that really bothers Paul about being in prison is that he can’t travel, can’t visit these dear Philippian sisters and brothers in Christ.

Many of us have met people who seem unable to see past their own troubles and to think about the needs of others. Maybe they carry around old grudges. Talk to old so-and-so for more than five minutes, for instance, and you will hear all about how unfairly he got fired from a job 25 years ago. But the person whose heart is aflame with the love of Christ will always be focused on others and how best to show God’s love to them. Jesus set the example for this when, even as he hung dying on the cross, he asked a disciple to take care of his mother (John 19:25-27).

This is a marker of true, unconditional love. Paul had it for the Philippians, and nothing could distract him from it.

Forgive us, dear God, when our selfishness blinds us from seeing and caring for the people around us. Open our eyes to all whom you would have us love in your name. Amen.

About the author — Scott Hoezee

Scott Hoezee is an ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church who served two congregations before joining the faculty at Calvin Theological Seminary in 2005 as the director of its Center for Excellence in Preaching. He is the author of numerous books, reviews, and articles, and he is a cohost of the radio program Groundwork, a sister-program of Today devotional. He is married to Rosemary Apol, and they have two adult children and a Boston terrier named Chester.

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