In the New Testament, the early church appeared to be a close-knit group of believers who genuinely cared for the well-being of others within the fold. They sincerely prayed, sung, and fellowshipped together out of a heart of love. It seemed as if each believer, having felt the rescue of God’s love through the power of the Holy Spirit, had a sincere, genuine love for each other. So much was this love that it seemed that they were ready to lay down their life for one another. That, of course, is the greatest demonstration of love (John 15:13).
One example of this selfless love was Epaphroditus who is recorded in the Epistle to the Philippians as traveling a significant distance and sacrificing his time to arrive at the location of Apostle Paul simply to be an encouragement and to give him a gift from the church of Philippi.
Apostle Paul, believed to be in prison at the time, was obviously very appreciative of such a gift. But really, it wasn’t the gift that did it for Paul; it was seeing the sincere love of the church of Philippi in deploying one of their own to help, to love. It was seeing the love of Jesus overflowing from them that caused him to rejoice.
While he was in a dark place not knowing if execution awaited him, fighting off rats in a damp, musty prison cell, one of his beloved brothers in Christ made a journey to visit him. Epaphroditus visited him not because of an ulterior motive but because he sincerely loved Paul. To see love being demonstrated in this manner surely lifted up Apostle Paul in the midst of a dark time.
As prophetic events are beginning to collide toward the return of our Lord Jesus Christ in our world today, something that Jesus said to the disciples is rapidly taking place: the love of many is waxing cold (Matthew 24:12). It is nearly an epidemic with the amount of hate that is overrunning the lives of many. It is seen demonstrated at every turn.
In this social system, there are children being systematically murdered in the womb as other children run around wondering why their parents abandoned them because of a lack of real love. Many will drive by an accident because it inconveniences them to assist because sincere love is lacking. Murders, rapes, assaults, etc. is continually the story of the week. Brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends, and others, are revealing a heart that is devoid of love for one another.
True, genuine love is hard to find. Even some ‘professing’ Christians appear to be devoid of love which is a contradiction in and of itself (1 John 4:20). The first fruit mentioned of the Holy Spirit is true, genuine love (Galatians 5:22-23). Love should flow without much effort for the born-again Christian who is indwelt with the Holy Spirit (Colossians 1:27).
Imagine if we all truly began to love like Epaphroditus, willing and able to lay down our own selfish, fleshly desires, to follow the leading of the Spirit to lift up someone else no matter the cost emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
I challenge you to choose to begin to truly love. I am not asking you to carry out something that appears to be love but is only an outward act. Examine your motives and confess any ulterior, sinful motives for your action. Then, go out there and begin to truly love.
Recommend a co-worker for an award anonymously. Visit a shut-in church member just because you just want to be an encouragement. Sit down and tell your children eye-to-eye that you love them and will never abandon them no matter what. Call that brother or sister who you have been holding a grudge against and pour your heart out to them asking for forgiveness. Go above and beyond for your supervisor not because you want to be noticed but just because. Witness to someone about the infinite love of God demonstrated in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Do it all in the name of Jesus Christ because it is He who truly loved us by allowing Himself to be pounded into a cross so that we could walk free of the justice we deserved as transgressors of God’s perfect law. As He genuinely loved, so let us walk in this life and genuinely love.