ODJ: words of love

February 5, 2015 

READ: Philippians 1:3-11 

God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus (v.8).

In 2014 some players from a school football team were involved in various forms of poor behaviour: skipping classes, getting failing grades and even cyber-bullying. The team’s coach came up with a radical disciplinary measure: he disbanded the entire team. Players and their families reacted to the news with contrite acceptance, for they knew how much the coach cared for his players.

A similar dynamic exists in the book of Philippians. Paul’s word choices in his letter to the church at Philippi are strikingly intimate and tender. He states that he has the church in his heart, declaring that God Himself can testify how much He loves those who are part of it (Philippians 1:8).

Clearly, Paul deeply loved the church. And this loving tone would have profoundly affected the way the Philippian church understood Paul’s overall instruction. For whatever he subsequently wrote or said, even if it was harsh and direct, they could be confident that the words were selected in a spirit of love. And when you’re confident that someone really loves you, your attitude towards what they have to say is profoundly affected.

This same dynamic holds true for us in our relationship with God. When He instructs, rebukes or encourages us, it’s easy to see Him as a strict enforcer of rules, and so we chafe at His ‘unfair’ regulations. But countless passages like John 3:16, Hebrews 12:5-6, and 1 John 3:16 remind us that more than anything else, it’s love that motivates God in His relationship with us.

Whatever God says, He says in love. Let’s choose to take His words to heart!

—Peter Chin

365-day plan› Exodus 6:1-13

Read Romans 5:8 and Ephesians 2:4-5 for further reminders of God’s love, and see how it should affect the way we listen to Him! 
What’s the main way you view and understand God? As a judge or enforcer of rules? As a loving parent or friend? How does your understanding of God affect the way you listen to His words and commands? 
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