Joy in Love


PrayerPraise the Lord! He is good.  God’s love never fails.  Praise the God of all gods.  God’s love never fails.  Praise the Lord of lords.  God’s love never fails (Psalm 136:1-3). 

We praise You, O, God, for Your love.  We know that we are unworthy of Your love.  We don’t deserve it.  But, in our hearts, we love You.  Your grace and mercy have no end. Help us to be more like You each day.  Give us the power to live in purity.  Amen!

Main Scripture: Read Philippians 1:7-10

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.  God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.  And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ (Philippians 1:7-10).

Associated Scriptures:

In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone who is born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:3-5).

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one anotherNo one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us (1 John 4:11-12).

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34).

Correlative Quotes:

Let’s you and me and everybody else, because we are not by ourselves, let’s dwell on the wonders of grace. Let every sense of unworthiness which comes daily, hourly maybe, send you higher into orbit of praise for the infiniteness of the price paid for you. “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32)[1] – John Piper

And this I pray, that your love - Which they had already shown. May abound yet more and more - The fire which burned in the apostle never says, It is enough. In knowledge and in all spiritual sense - Which is the ground of all spiritual knowledge. We must be inwardly sensible of divine peace, joy, love; otherwise, we cannot know what they are.[2] – John Wesley


There is real joy in close friendships.  These friendships must start with some general attraction.  A closeness then grows, as the trust between the parties emerges.  As trust expands into all areas of a relationship, the bond grows even strong.  So does the joy of being around one another. 

This is the way it works in our relationship with God.   However, there are two huge differences between our relationship with our best friend and our relationship with God.  When disloyalty occurs in any relationship, the friendship ends or at least is never the same again.  We have a completely reverse relationship with God.  We will be disloyal to Him (Romans 3:23).  The friendship might suffer until we apologize or repent (1 John 1:9).  Despite how egregious our actions might have been, we will be restored to complete fellowship with God.  Our violation of the trust is not only forgiven, but also, it is forgotten.

Second, we may be equals with our best friends, but we will never be equal to God.  Our relationship with God is based on our complete unworthiness and His holiness.  Our love for Him is conditional, while His love for us is unconditional.

The joy we sense, due to our unconditional love relationship with God, is only the first of its expressions.  The joyful experience of sacrificial love is expressed in Philippians 1:7-8.  Paul had a great love for the Philippian church.  That love was mutual.  In verse 7, Paul describes the Philippians as “partakers” in his punishment and in his defense of the gospel.

The apostle John expresses this same sacrificial joy when he addresses Gaius in 3 John 1-5 (NKJV): The Elder (Paul), to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth: beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.  For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth.  I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.  Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers…

 Paul continues this statement of friendship in 3 John 11: “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.”

John uses the words “no greater joy,” in referring to Gaius.  Gaius was Paul’s beloved friend because he was generous.  They both also walked according to the same truth.

The third manifestation of joy is found in giving.  Paul defended the faith (before the crowds from city to city) and confirmed the truth of the Gospel.  The Philippians’ gifts were used to sustain the ministry team physically.  Their love and prayers supported the team emotionally and spiritually.

In response to this generosity, the apostle declared that they were faithful.  This conduct is praiseworthy.  It is an act of faithfulness to the truth of God.  The joy that Paul feels continues as he introduces the concept of unconditional, intercessory prayer in Philippians 1:9-10.  Romans 8:27 (NKJV) adds to this thought when it says: “Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”  Paul’s prayer is that the Philippians would know, understand, and practice Godly prayer for and with everyone.  He makes these important points:

  1. Abound in knowledge and discernment: Here, Paul focuses on the joy that is centered around loving others, just as God loves them and died for them. The word “abound” carries with it the meaning of a cup overflowing, or a river overflowing its banks.
  2. Approve what is excellent: Paul says to keep your attention on the best things of life, and not on the evil.
  3. Aspire to sincerity without offense: Here Paul expects the Philippians to speak with honesty and sincerity in all things.
  4. Approach life with righteousness: Paul encourages the Philippians to choose obedience.

Summary Statement: Our love for God and others have strings attached.  God’s love is perfect.  Therefore, it is pure and without conditions.  We should enjoy that kind of love, that kind of relationship.  A love relationship with God should bring continued joy to our lives.  When we are friends with God, and obedient to Him, we experience Joy in Love.

Lessons within the Lesson:

What is the evidence that Paul loved the church at Philippi?

How is this church different from many churches today?

How is love transformed into joy?

How do we make love of others a reality in our lives? 

[1] John Piper: Are You more Sinful that You Know, more Loved than Imagined, Fair Use Authorization, Section 107, of the Copyright Law, By John Piper. © Desiring God Foundation. Source:

[2] John Wesley, John Wesley’s Notes of the Bible, Public Domain, Publication date 1755,,0,308.