I am sure that some of the older folks can recall when the USS Pueblo was captured by the North Koreans. The 82 surviving crew members who were captured were brutally treated and tortured. In one instance 13 men from the Pueblo were required to sit i a rigid manner around a table for hours at a time. After several hours the door flung open an a North Korean officer came in and brutally beat the man in the first chair with the butt of his rifle. The next day came, and as each man sat in his assigned place the door once more flung open and once again the man in the first chair was brutally beaten. On the third day the same thing happened. Knowing that the man could not survive these continuous beating another young sailor took his place. When the door flung open the guard automatically began to beat the man in the first chair. For weeks, each day a new man would step forward and sit in the first chair, knowing full well that they would receive a terrible beating. At last the guards gave up in their game, unable to beat the sacrifical love which was shown by these men.
And as we look to those sailors and their willingness to take on brutal beating for the sake of their brothers in arms we have an example of type of love we should have for one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. That is our theme today as we continue to look at the letter written by Paul to the saints at Philippi. Today we will be looking at verse 7 & 8 of chapter 1. Please turn with we there as we read;
"just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ."
As I stated Paul here continues his greeting to the Philippians. He states in verse 7 that is right for him to think of them in this way. Looking back to the previous verses we can see how Paul thought of them, he though them in every prayer, he thought of them with thanksgiving, he thought of them with joy. He thought of the fellowship he had with them, he thought of them with the confidence that the work God had begun in them God would continue on until the day of Christ’s return.
Paul states that is right or only natural for him to feel this way about these people. Then he states the reasons that this is the right way for him to feel. As the rest of verse 7 and 8 read;
"because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ."
In other words Paul felt this way about these people because he loved them with the affection or as some translate this phrase, the "tender mercies of Christ." Paul loved these people in the same way in which Christ loved these people. And God as called upon each one of us to love each other just as Paul loved these people. This is the type of love that Christians are to have for one another. And if you do not have this type of love for your brothers and sisters in Christ, as we shall see, you have got a big spiritual problem.
So it is one thing to say we need to love each other, but it is another to but that into practice. In order to love as Christ loved and as Paul states he loves these people we need to learn some things concerning this love that Christians are to have for one another. As I studied this area of Christians loving each other, I was surprised at the amount of passages found in the New Testament which deal with this subject. In fact there was so much on the subject that I thought it best to break down this sermon into two parts. So I want you to all put on seat belts as we will be kind of driving around the New Testament as we see what kind of love this is;
I also encourage you to jot down these verse so that you can look them up later and see for yourselves the love which God wants you to have for each other.