We live in the most connected generation in all of history. With email, FaceTime, google chat, Facebook, twitter, Instagram (and the list goes on), you can connect instantly with hundreds of your closest friends.
“We need people in our lives who have our best interest in mind who know our fears, struggles, pain, and our joys.”
Yet, with all of this connectedness, we are left relationally disconnected from each other. It is easy to be surrounded by hundreds of online friends and feel isolated and alone. This is a problem because we are made for community. We need people to know and be known by others. We need people in our lives who have our best interest in mind who know our fears, struggles, pain, and our joys.
In Philippians 1:3-8, the Apostle Paul gives us insight into overcoming loneliness and disconnectedness through the habit of love. Paul is sitting in a Roman jail as a prisoner with a possible death sentence looming over his head. As his mind races past his current situation, over the Adriatic to Macedonia, his thoughts find a resting place in a small Roman colony called Philippi, with a small, poor church.
The result is staggering. As the great church planter and Apostle to the Gentiles sits idle, unable to pursue his calling, he is not left in despair but in joy. In Philippians 1:3, Paul finds joy by remembering, thanking God, and interceding for others: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy.”
Look once again at the chain reaction that takes place. Paul, sitting in a Roman prison, (Roman prisons were not known for their comfort), a place in which many would consider a place of hopelessness and despair, Paul is full of joy.
He takes his mind temporarily off of himself and his current situation and remembers his brothers and sisters in the local church at Philippi who are partners in the Gospel with him (Philippians 1:5), and this memory, turns to Thanking God for them, which turns to praying for them, which results in his heart being filled with joy.
Later, in verse 7, Paul will express the deep affection that he has for the people in this small local church which is nurtured through remembering, thanksgiving to God, and prayer. Paul is committed to the Philippians. It’s a commitment of the heart – or commitment of the mind might fit better in our language.
“If you have emotion without action it falls short of biblical love, just as much as having action without emotion.”
This is a picture of the habit of love. I am not arguing that love is only a habit, meaning an action that takes place. Biblical love is both an emotion and an action. They are intertwined and necessary as they both stimulate one another. If you have emotion without action it falls short of biblical love, just as much as having action without emotion. Biblical love is both.
When we are in the habit of committing our minds to others, whether an individual or a group (local church), love and affection will increase. When we are in the habit of highlighting God’s salvific work in their lives and the grace of God; we are seeing actively in their lives, the affections & actions that we have for them will increase. So remember, thanking God, and praying increases emotion and actions. That is the habit of love.
If I am in the habit of pointing out my wife’s negative traits (she has two), then I will start to see her negatively and my affections for her will not be as strong and my loving actions towards her will decrease. But if I get into the habit of seeing her as she is, a child of the King, who set aside His glory, lived the life she could not live, and died the death she deserved to die to save her and call her His child. Then how can I do anything but thank God for her, pray for her, and love her.
When I get into the habit of pointing out in my mind (heart) how I see God working in her life, my affections for her will grow exponentially. Love is a habit. This works for marriages and it works in the local church.
“… it is easy to let offenses and each other’s weakness overshadow their true identity.”
When we are not in the habit of love by remembering each other in the church, thanking God for each other, and praying for each other, it is easy to let offenses and each other’s weakness overshadow their true identity. They are children of the King and we get to partake in the greatest mission ever given. To tell others about forgiveness of sin and salvation from the wrath of God by trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Who has it better than the local church does? No one. So let’s get in the habit of love by daily remembering each other, thanking God for each other, and praying for each other. It is honoring to the King.