7 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. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
So Paul is writing to the church in Philippi. In verse 7, Paul says he strong positive feeling towards this church that he helped start (Acts 16). He is in prison in Rome for sharing the Gospel of grace & peace. These people in Philippi sent a financial gift to him that allows him to buy food while he is in prison. He thinks the world of these guys – all of them.
He says “All of you” three times in those two verses above. He loves all of them.
Now the critic in me says , “wait, all of them?”. He loves the annoying people? The draining ones? The hard to love ones? There is no way!
Paul didn’t repeat that phrase accidentally. He wanted them to notice. God wants us to notice. Paul loves all of them. God wants us to love all of them.
Really? That sounds impossible to me. I have people in my life that annoy and frustrate me. There are people who have wounded me deep. There is no way I could love them! Are you with me? Do you have people that have hurt you so badly that there is no way that you could love them?
So how can Paul love all of them?
The secret is found in verse 8. He loves them with the affections/compassion of Christ. This term in the greek is splagchnon. This word literally means thebowels, intestines. Jews would use this term to describe the deepest part of you, in your soul, in your gut.
Paul is saying that he loves all of them with the compassion that Jesus demonstrated towards him. The deepest part of Jesus was moved in affections towards Paul, and now Paul is showing that same compassion towards all of the people in Philippi. There is power in that compassion. There is power in that love. Paul is loving all of them with the powerful compassion of Jesus. That same love that was poured out towards all of us on the cross of Calvary.
What would it be like to have something going on inside of us that would allow us to love the unlovable?
If we could love our enemies with the powerful love of Christ, the world would change.
Who is it that you have a difficulty loving? Who is hardest to love?
Maybe we should all be praying… help me deep in my splagchnon to be turned towards that person. And we should be asking… what does the love of Christ look like here?
Let’s love all of them because Jesus loves all of us.