Recently, we enjoyed a family vacation, and one of the traditions I love is the taking of the family photo. Now some love the opportunity to smile more than others (but usually with a bribe of a trip to the family fun center or an ice cream) most everyone will beam out joy.
Philippians is a book about joy—and it is also a book about how joy enriches relationships. In our newest book, Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience, we three authors (myself, Jean E Jones and artist, Karla Dornacher) offer numerous creative ways to explore and experience God’s Word. One of my favorites is to fall asleep to Scripture. Because I was writing on Philippians, I immersed myself in an audio version (esv) of Philippians. Hearing it read, like the letter it was penned to be, highlighted how much the Apostle Paul had to say about relationships.
When we bring joy into the relationship realm, it blesses and builds those we love. We are bringing our best selves to T.H.E.M.
Thank God For Them: Philippians 1:3 models this: I thank my God in all my remembrance of you… People can tell when you appreciate them. We want to live in such a way that when people think of us, they light up with delight. Also, by thanking God for someone, with this “attitude of gratitude,” it builds a sense of deep respect, honor, and gratefulness toward the person. In short, we like people more and are willing to stay in their life with a steadfast love when we’re praying for them.
Hold Them In Your Heart: Philippians 1:7 explains: It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace… Our goal is to be “partakers of grace,” and we can do this as we hold others in our hearts. This means we choose to NOT make a relationship about a list of behaviors. Instead, we carry others with constant love, giving the benefit of the doubt to another’s intentions or motives. When a relationship is based only on behaviors, no one can stay good enough, long enough to succeed. Love’s grace always trumps human imperfection.
Express Joy to Them: Philippians 1: 4 challenges us to love with joy and prayer: always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy…We are drawn to people who express joy when they see us. Knowing someone is praying for you, with JOY, can build a relationship. That’s why praying for someone is one of the greatest gifts you can give.
Multiply Love By Applying God’s Love: Philippians 1: 9 encourages us to love more like God: And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment...We can deepen our understanding of a verse by reading it in a few translations or paraphrased versions. I find joy in seeing the HOW to love in the expanded vocabulary definitions in verses 9 and 10 in the Amplified version:
And this I pray, that your love may abound more and more [displaying itself in greater depth] in real knowledge and in practical insight, so that you may learn to recognize and treasure what is excellent [identifying the best, and distinguishing moral differences], and that you may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ [actually living lives that lead others away from sin]; (emphasis mine).
I also cherish this these verses in The Message:
So, this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of” (emphasis mine).
As you love like Jesus, your relationships will become more enJOYable. And as we bring our happy, hopeful, positive attitude of JOY to each relationship, we will be easier to love too!
Pam is joyously married to Bill now for 40 years, mom to 3 sons, Mom in law to 3 daughters-in-love, Nana to 5 little grands, and author of 48 books including the second in the Discovering the Bible series: Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience