The Joy of Affection


The Joy of Affection
“It is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:7-8).
Often the strongest and deepest relationships are forged in the crucible of Christian ministry.

Undoubtedly there are people who occupy a special place in your heart. Perhaps you seldom see them or talk to them, but they are on your mind and in your prayers often.

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That’s how Paul regarded the Philippian believers, and it was right for him to do so because they were such an integral part of his life and ministry. They stood by him in every situation—even during his judicial proceedings and imprisonment in Rome.

The gratitude and joy Paul felt was more than an emotion. It was a moral obligation to praise God for what He had accomplished through them. That’s the meaning of the Greek word translated “right” in verse 7.

“Heart” refers to the center of one’s thoughts and feelings (cf. Prov. 4:23). Paul thought of the Philippians often and eagerly yearned for them with the affection of Christ Himself. In Philippians 4:1 he calls them, “My beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown.”

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The mutual affection between Paul and the Philippians illustrates that often the strongest and deepest relationships are developed within the context of Christian ministry. There’s a special camaraderie among people who work toward life’s most noble goals and see God achieve eternal results through their efforts. Guard those relationships carefully and cultivate as many as possible.

Suggestions for Prayer

Make a list of those who share in your ministry. Also list some ways that God has worked through you in recent weeks. Spend time thanking Him for both.

For Further Study

Barnabas was a faithful friend and ministry companion to Paul. Read Acts 4:36-37, 9:22-28, 11:19-30, and 13:1-3 and answer these questions:

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What does “Barnabas” mean? Did he live up to his name?
How did Barnabas pave the way for Paul’s ministry among the disciples at Jerusalem?
What adventure did Paul and Barnabas share that began at Antioch?

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