“Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”
Having looked at the first area of harmony (oneness of attitude), we turn to the second phrase: “having the same love.”
“having the same love”
This is a unity of affection, two hearts beating as one. It would fulfill Paul’s joy if the Philippians had “the same love.”
The word “having” means to go on having, constantly having. The request is not for an event where Christians state their love for one another. Paul was asking for a lifestyle of loving each other. We are to continually apply the principle of loving one another to our experience.
This love is probably based on the appeal to love in verse 1: “if any comfort of love.” We are motivated because of God’s unconditional love for us. Because God has loved us, we ought to love one another.
When we at the end of the twentieth century talk about love, we are in danger of reading our cultural view of love back into the Bible. Love is more than maudlin sentiment. Sometimes we love the best when our love is tough when we do the right thing for a person. Sloppy love with no norms is not biblical love.
The expressions of our love may change. A good parent shows pleasure at the accomplishment of the child. When a parent is pleased, he or she needs to show it. When a child steps out of line, not to discipline is to hurt the child. The most loving thing we can do for the child in that situation is to discipline. Our love for other believers may have several looks.
If a boy breaks the neighbor’s window and we say, “That’s all right” and pat him on the head, we have taught him not to respect other people’s property. That is not love; that is maudlin sentimentality. But if we discipline the child without an attitude of love, that does not love either. The love of the parent needs to be based on norms that are independent of negative attitudes.
The word “same” means selfsame. Love should be mutual. If it is mutual, there is a much higher likelihood that harmony will exist between people or groups. If we try to discredit someone, a breakdown in mutual love has developed. The momentum of the cycle of mutually operating on the best norms for each other has cracked. If one breaks out of this cycle, then the other may be tempted to break out and penalize the first one for the hurt incited.
The believer is to have an attitude of mutual (selfsame) love because that will eventually establish a momentum of love.
Are we the one who breaks out of the momentum of love? Do we violate the norms of relationships?