"be imitators of Christ" like I am - listen! Paul's teachings have become stock and the standard wherein we must pattern our lives to become more Christ-like, and therefore live the life which God has called us to live. What gave Paul such authority? Well, it was more like WHO! After Jesus knocked him off his horse on the road to Damascus as he was about to do another round of killing and jailing Christians, Jesus Himself taught Paul in the Arabian desert for three years on how to impart the message and use his vast knowledge of the Law and the Prophets to explain He, of Whom, the Law and the Prophets spake - Jesus the Messiah! That gave the Apostle the authority, so when he says
The best example of a brother in Christ, who loves people and loves fellow believers is found in these three short verses. The love shown here spoke not just volumes but absolute life to the brethren, who were stuck in the same weather military complex of Philippi alongside pagans...sort of like how we are. But Paul, building on the theme of Love, which he started in 1 Corinthians 13, continues on here. Also, please remember that Peter confirmed all Paul's letters to the churches at this time as carrying the very weight of SCRIPTURE! So there was no difference between the authority and inspiration of Paul's Words as there was with Moses in Deuteronomy! Let us now then, follow these simple steps to love someone else to Jesus, and thus, speak life to them!
- THAT YOUR LOVE MAY ABOUND MORE AND MORE: This resembled the Father’s love in John 3:16 “for God SO loved the world”. This agape selfless and sacrificial love is actually really easy to come by, once the love and Life of Christ abides in you and I! In these trying days, our love for fellow Christians and especially those under heavy duress, persecution and worse in the pagan parts of the world should pour out of us like ice cold milk on a hot summer day. We cannot do anything to help our persecuted brethren in the Islamic or communist countries, but we sure can pray for them.
If western churches spend even 10% of the time loving on and praying for our brothers and sisters being beheaded and worse, the western church would become more aligned with the Will and Purposes of God. Many people are drawn to us when we show this kind of love! Our love can also abound in material ways. Prayer, in love, leads to action which leads to real ministry to the hungry, hurting and humble. We know by the joy in our very spirit, that our prayer for particular person(s) that our intercession has feet that walk out our faith.
- IN REAL KNOWLEDGE AND DISCERNMENT: To really pray effectively for the benefit of anyone, including ourselves, we have to basically know what we are talking about. This requires a true knowledge of the Holy One - Yahweh and the Father as well as the correct literal interpretation of the Scriptures. So first, we pray because Scripture commands it. We pray because we love God and want to know Him as much as we can, on this side of Heaven. Still even if we pray 24/7/365, we will never know even half of what we will know about God one day in Heaven! We can only know Him through the Scriptures and even then, even through intentional expository study according to the Full Counsel, whereby Scripture explains Scripture. Unlike other religions, Christianity is thinking person's religious system whereby the One True God of Heaven reasons with us because His Ways are higher than ours, yet simple enough to comprehend.
Therefore, we are a people whose faith is built on transparent knowledge and awareness of not just our created surroundings, but the Creator Who giveth all things unto us....and things which include WISDOM! Knowledge of the Holiness and Heavenly Abode of the Almighty as we love others to Jesus leads then to discernment and Godly wisdom. We MUST use discernment while praying for another. There are several reasons for this: we do not/should not mislead those for whom we are praying with false claims of things which God has not said or revealed. Name it and claim it word faith frauds are the worse offenders of this false prayer paradigm and do more harm than good, while not exhibiting Godly love at all. Godly discernment in praying in love for the needs of another is the outflow of an intentional lifestyle full of obedience and humility. The person who lives Micah 6:8 is one whose discernment is the living definition of Biblical thinking in ALL areas of our own lives.
Remember our own brother - the Apostle Peter said the following about Biblical discernment that God "has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence" (2 Peter 1:3). So let us lay hold of this knowledge and wisdom so that when we pray and love on another and/or speak life through our Godly conduct, that we do so ENTIRELY in line with Scripture. These are the only prayers which the Father honors. To do otherwise, is to not love God with our Heart, Mind, Soul and strength (body) and therefore - not to love "our neighbor as ourselves".