Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Affection of Christ Jesus-Philippians 1:8

“For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus”

There are two principles that have stuck with me since learning them in college. One is that, “nobody cares what you know until they know what you care”. Or to put that another way, nobody cares what you have to say until they know that you really truly care about them. The other principle is very similar. “You can tell anyone about anything so long as they know that you love them”. I believe there are many in our youth group that I can tell “about anything” simply because they know that I deeply love them and care only for their best.

This is precisely what Paul is establishing in verse 8. He calls God as his witness (who else could have testified to his deep emotions). Paul is letting the Philippians know that he dearly loves them. It was customary in Paul’s day to begin letters with a “thanksgiving” to the gods. Here Paul is letting the Philippians know that his “thanksgiving” and “yearning” for them is not only a mere sentiment. He does not only love them with lofty words, he is not merely using flattery, he really truly loves them.

Note also how Paul loves them; not only with Paul’s affection, but with the affection of Christ Jesus. It would be one thing for me to say that I love my wife, but to say I love my wife with the very affection that Christ Jesus loves is quite another. Look with me briefly at the love of Christ.
It tells the truth even when it hurts. It washes feet. It shares living water with an unfaithful woman. It touches lepers. It turns over tables in the temple. It ultimately sheds its blood for the beloved. It secures eternal joy and love. It fully gives of self.

It also worth noting what J.A. Bengel did, “It is not Paul who lives within Paul, but Jesus Christ, which is why Paul is not moved by the [affections] of Paul but by the [affections] of Jesus Christ.”
[1] The reason that Paul is able to love with the affection of Christ is because Christ is overflowing out of Paul. It is not Paul who lives but Christ Jesus (Galatians 2:20). In as much as Christ lives and overflows from us we too will have for other the “affection of Christ Jesus”.

From this passage do two things:
  • Ponder (that means think about) the deep love that Christ has for you
  • Ask yourself whether or not the love of Christ is flowing from you, so that you can truly say that you have for others the “affection of Christ Jesus”

    [1] Bengel, J.A., Studies 2, 426

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