“Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.”
The church in Philippi had come upon evil days. Two women were threatening the church’s very existence. Their feud developed into vicious retaliatory cycles, each woman punishing the other for her misdeeds. They saw the problem almost exclusively residing with the other person. So they entered these self-perpetuating, destructive cycles. They had a need of being one-up in subtle ways. This divided the church into two sections.
“Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown”
Paul’s love for the Philippian church is apparent in this phrase. Verse 1 is a plea to the church as a whole. Verse 2 is a plea to the two women. This expression of love applied to both.
“Therefore” shows the inference from chapter 3, which challenged the church to sanctification and glorification. Paul’s challenge to the Philippians was that, if they accepted everything he said in chapter 3, then they should embrace chapter 4.
Paul called the Philippian church by four descriptions. The first is “beloved.” Paul loved this church. This verse begins and ends with “beloved.” He dearly loved them.
The second descriptive term Paul used of the Philippians was “longed-for brethren.” “Brethren” indicates family. Paul could not wait to see his spiritual family again. He longed for their presence. Their fellowship was delightful. Do you long for your church? Do you have the attitude that you cannot wait to be with them? Do you have a church home? If you are not glad to get home to your spouse after a long trip, there is something wrong. If we are not glad to get back to our church family, then there is something wrong. We ought to feel the same about our eternal family as our human family.
The third description, “my joy,” indicates that they were the source of Paul’s animation. His knowing that they came to Christ under his ministry and their response to the Word of God engendered inner animation to Paul’s soul.
In the fourth depiction of the Philippians, Paul described them as his “crown.” Paul led them to Christ. He would receive a crown in heaven because he introduced them to Christ. This church was to Paul as a victory wreath was to a runner in the Greek games.
If we see conflict among Christians, it is important to recall our love and appreciation for them.
Mature love loves above conflict. When you see people in conflict, are you blinded by the emotional tension? Can you rise above emotions to appreciate people beyond the immediate conflict? Family members may differ, but they are still family. Mature love loves above conflict.