Thursday, March 8, 2007

Abounding Love--Philippians 1:9

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more…”

Robert M. McCheyne was a minister in Scotland in the early 1800’s that was used mightily by God. McCheyne however died shortly before his 30th birthday. In fact much of McCheyne’s life was filled with sickness, as his biographer A.A. Bonar comments, “Yet it was plain to him now that personal trouble was to be one of the ingredients of that experience which helped to give a peculiar tone to his ministry”.[1] As McCheyne himself would later say, “my sickly frame makes me feel every day that my time may be very short”.[2] Yet, McCheyne continued to preach and labor for the advance of the gospel as he had time. His love for Christ and his love for souls poured forth from him as if he had an eternal well from which to draw.

I now compare Mr. McCheyne to my own wicked heart. There have been many times when I have seen people in need, sometimes people even as dear to me as my wife, and I feel as if I have “little to give them”. Perhaps I have had a tough day at work, maybe I have been in my study for a few too many hours, or maybe I like McCheyne often did feel too sickly.

This passage of Scripture, coupled with the love of a McCheyne who modeled it, humbles me. I realize that so often my love does not “abound more and more”. This is the center of Paul’s prayer for the Philippians. His ultimate purpose and hope in prayer is found in verse 11, “to the praise and glory of God”. Yet, this ultimate purpose is to be realized through the abounding love of those who have been redeemed.

Did the Philippians love? Of course they did. That is modeled by their continual giving and partnership in the gospel. They were very loving, yet Paul is encouraging them to not settle. So often in our lives we settle and have the false idea that we have “arrived”. Paul is saying that he prays for the Philippians continually that their love may never stop growing. The word for “abound” can also be translated, “riches, superabundance, supply unlimited”. Paul’s prayer for the Philippians (which can even be extended to a prayer for all those who are involved in advancing the gospel) is that their love might overflow; their love for God and their love for people.

As Paul stated in Romans 13:8, the only continuing debt we should have should be to love one another. You never can love enough. You never can say to another, “I’ve given enough” or “I’ve paid my dues of love”. Our love should be abounding more and more as if it is coming from an eternal source; simply because Christian love does come from an eternal source. If we are to love with the affection of Christ Jesus, if we are to advance the gospel in love, then it must be the love which comes from Christ Jesus—and that love is never exhausted.
  • Is your love temporal, occasional, and shallow in nature?
  • How can you grow in your level of love so that it abounds more and more?
  • Pray today for yourself and for others (in humility) that our love might abound more and more
  • Meditate on the abounding love of Christ

If you are interested in reading more about Robert Murray McCheyne then his biography can be found at

[1] Bonar, A.A., Memoirs and Remains of Robert M. McCheyne. p53.
[2] Ibid, p91.

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