Countless books have been written on love, and numerous seminars have been given on keeping devotion strong in a marriage. There are many different kinds of love; love between spouses, love for your friends, casual care about co-workers, and the general hope for the welfare of strangers. Some say care for strangers isn’t technically love, but God’s word says differently. So what does love look like from a biblical standpoint?
Paul’s thanksgiving and prayer to the church at Philippi show us what love from a Christian standpoint looks like, pinpointing ten things specifically.
Philippians 1:3-11 ESV “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, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
The first thing Paul mentions is their partnership in the gospel. I know people don’t like to hear pastors talk about money, and there are wrong ways to emphasize finances and giving. That being said, we cannot dismiss what Scripture says about giving.
Matthew 6:20-22 ESV “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,”
2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
The Philippian church loved Paul, and they loved the gospel, so they gave of their means to help spread the gospel. They also, no doubt, prayed for Paul and his missionary journeys regularly. Giving is not about the amount but the heart behind it, as demonstrated by Jesus’s comments about the widows giving compared to the Pharisees. Give generously from the heart, regardless of the amount you give.
The Philippians didn’t necessarily have a lot of money to give, but their heart was for the gospel, which is why Paul followed his thanks with the reminder that their giving was evidence of the good work the Lord began and would complete in them.
Paul prayed that their love would abound with knowledge and discernment. Biblical love is not just an emotional feeling but a life directed through the knowledge of God and full of understanding. When we walk in wisdom and insight, we will approve what is excellent; we will rightly before God and be blameless. We will be filled with righteousness through Jesus Christ and give glory and praise to God in our manner of life.
Our love walk of a Christian is a daily thing, even moment by moment. Sometimes, we will miss it, we won’t respond in ways we should, someone may need something, and we don’t help in ways we could. But, when we miss it, there is forgiveness to receive when we go to God with a repentant heart, and we have a promise that God will finish the good work He started in us.
In all of his letters, Paul emphasizes the continual growth in the lives of believers. We all start as babies and grow day by day; through our own study, fellowship with other believers, and being under sound teaching in a local church. Take some time to read 1 Corinthians 13 and First John. These two portions of Scripture will encourage and instruct you as you grow in loving God and loving others.